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Will you enjoy a Veterans Day parade? Nov. 11 is the one great day to honor our men and women who served, watch the bands, the flags and the display of pride as we are reminded just how much we owe those who wear and wore the uniform.

The fighting of World War I ceased in 1918 when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. This was regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.” President Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of the Armistice Day in 1919. It was President Eisenhower in 1954 who changed the name to “Veterans Day.” 

More than 18 million living veterans served during at least one war as of 2020. Seven million veterans served during the Vietnam War, and 3 million have served in support of the War on Terrorism. As of 2020, only 325,000 World War II veterans were still alive, but 16 million had served in that war. Every Veterans Day there is a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, which commences at exactly 11 a.m. with a wreath laying on the Tomb of the Unknowns.

If you haven’t been to the Anthem Veterans Memorial, you are missing out. The memorial has five pillars that represent the five branches of the United States military. They are staggered in size, and the military seal placements on each pillar are based upon the Department of Defense-prescribed precedence. At precisely 11:11 a.m. on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, the sun’s rays will pass through each of the five pillars’ elliptical openings, with the shadows aligning precisely to illuminate a glass mosaic medallion of the Great Seal of the United States. For one thrilling minute, this monument can be seen in its full glory.

My father served in World War II, my husband was in Vietnam and my grandson is in the Navy. When Pearl Harbor was bombed, my father, like tens of thousands of young men, joined the Army Air Forces immediately. Stationed in England with the 450th Bomb Squadron of the 322nd Group, he recalls flying over France on a mission when the propeller fell off the plane. Land the plane in a farmer’s field, find some baling wire, have a French farmer and three airmen get the propeller back on the fuselage, and fasten it on with a wire used for hay. 

Take off and make it back to base. To fly again, fight again and try to save humanity from the clutches of evil. So goes the stories of war.

Historians will analyze the effectiveness of wars we fought in, and our elected officials will decide on the new wars we will have to fight. But the “we” is really a group of devoted, loyal, highly trained, brave men and women who chose to join the military. Their commitment never ends, their work often underestimated and their experiences often unimaginable. 

Veterans Day exemplifies how thankful we are and how much we owe our men and women who fought, fight and serve. 

Judy Bluhm is writer and a local Realtor. Have a comment or a story? Email Judy at judy@judybluhm.com.