A Reader’s Reflection on Veterans Day
Guest Blogger Kim Adams reflects on Veterans day, recognizes two veterans who inspire her and shares a very special way that you can also commemorate the efforts of the troops fighting overseas by participating in Operation Holiday Card.
November 11 has several names – Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, and Veterans Day. It commemorates the end of WWI on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. It also honors all veterans who served and sacrificed.
In London, the Queen will lay a wreath at Whitehall.
In Ottawa, the Prime Minister will join veterans at the National War Memorial.
In Washington, DC, the President will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.
In Hawaii, my husband will be singing with the Sounds of Aloha aboard the USS Missouri as they recognized the veterans of the Pacific.
All will be wearing the poppy pins inspired by a poem written by Canadian Lieutenant Colonel (Dr.) John McCrae during WWI:
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
I was curious about November 11, 1941 – less than a month before the attack on Pearl Harbor. From President Roosevelt’s address at Arlington National Cemetery.
Standing near to the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Sergeant York of Tennessee remarked, "There are those in this country today who ask me and other veterans, 'What did it get you?'"
Sergeant York spoke thus of the cynics and doubters: "The thing they forget is that liberty and freedom and democracy are so very precious that you do not fight to win them once and stop. Liberty and freedom and democracy are prizes awarded only to those peoples who fight to win them and then keep fighting eternally to hold them."
What did any veteran “get” from military service? I could list the benefits. But those who “got something” are those who live in liberty, freedom, and democracy. These are broad terms that sometimes seem abstract. So I quantify it as a reader. It “got” me the opportunity to choose what I want to read. It “got” me a wide range of books from which to choose. It “got” me the opportunity to discuss books in social mediums without fear of persecution. It “got” me the opportunity to find books elsewhere when banned by a narrow minded person at a particular school or library. It “got” me a larger world in which to explore. Sgt. York’s service, and the millions of veterans after him, “got” me life.
92 years after the end of WWI, Sergeant York and most of his fellow soldiers are no longer with us. Over time their names may fade but their legacy lives within us. The legacy that they passed to the next generation – the WWII veterans. I thank them for confronting the powers in Europe and the Pacific who sought to deny my grandparents their liberty, freedom, and democracy. I would like to recognize two WWII veterans who inspire me:
Army Veteran George Small enlisted in the Army, completed his stateside training, and arrived in France after the D-Day invasion. As a radio operator, he followed the US Army’s march towards Berlin. He witnessed history in the making. He wrote of his emotional homecoming in 1946 as his troop ship pulled into New York Harbor, “It was a marvelous welcome home, but as I stood there in midst of celebration I couldn't help thinking of all the guys who wanted to see this and never would.”
George ultimately became the heroic inspiration of the epic romances penned by his bride, NYT ’s bestselling author Bertrice Small. George doesn’t have to wear a kilt, carry a broadsword, or speak with a burr to be a hero. He was simply willing to stand in harm’s way.
Norman J. Brown joined the Army Air Corps when he turned 18 in 1943. As a member of the 69th Depot Repair Squadron, 301st Air Depot Group, Norman drove a truck in a convoy over the Burma-Leda Road into China. His unit was disbanded at the end of the war and he was reassigned to the 1363 Military Policy Company in Shanghai, waiting to return home.
Norman used his GI Bill to attend college – a prospect that he had not considered as a farm boy before the war. The military also whet his appetite for travel – he ultimately took his family to West Africa when he worked for USAID. Several years ago, he returned to China with his wife.
His service, experience, and education no doubt inspired his daughter, historical author Margaret Mallory, to pursue her own public service. After receiving a law degree, she set out to “save the world” by improving services for abused children and care for the elderly. Norman “got” an education from the military but our society “got” a family committed to serving those in need.
Today, thousands of deployed personnel around the world will be away from home this holiday season. Join me in making sure that our deployed personnel “get” a holiday greeting through Operation Holiday Card. To sign up for one (or more) addresses, please contact Kelley at firstname.lastname@example.org to participate. One card at a time, we can thank them for continuing to give us liberty, freedom, and democracy.
A'ohe hana nui ka alu'ia.
No task is too big when done together.
- Kim Adams