With thanks to our Veterans

Although, tomorrow, November 12, is the “official” Veterans’ Day, so that federal and state offices, courts and schools can shut down, today is the real Veterans’ Day. In 1918, World War I officially ended on the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month. By the time that clock stopped ticking, the death toll from that war (originally known as “the Great War,” since it was inconceivable that another war, even worse in scope, would happen again in 20 odd years) was at about eight and a half million. America, which had entered the war only 1917, and mercifully helped bring it to its conclusion, lost about 126,000 troops.

Sadly, the War’s end did not see the end of mass deaths worldwide. Troop and refugee movements created the perfect vector for the Spanish Influenza pandemic which killed between 50 – 100 million people worldwide in 1918 and 1919. Small wonder that the 1920s were a time of remarkably frivolity. People had spent too many years walking through the deep, dark Valley of the Shadow of Death to have any stomach for being serious. Unfortunately, reality caught up with them during the 1930s, with its reminder that the human capacity for creating mass destruction is almost unlimited.

And where that capacity for destruction exists, there have always been Americans who voluntarily or because called upon by their country, have stepped forward to block those malevolent movements.  American men and women have repeatedly gone to battle to protect and expand liberty, both at home and abroad. To those men and women, those who died, through war or time; those who are living and fighting still; and those who have retired from the field, I say thank you so much.

 Joseph Ambrose, an 86-year-old World War I veteran, attends the dedication day parade for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. He is holding the flag that covered the casket of his son, who was killed in the Korean War

6 Responses

  1. You might also like reading this, Book.


    It is inherently unavoidable that peace kills more than war. However that is parsed, humanity can never stop killing or suffering simply by trying to stop war. Need something better than that.

  2. Whoops. my mistake, Vientnam Memorial was dedicated 25 years ago. He was born in 1896, would have been in late teens for WW1.

  3. re: caption, 86 year-old WW (!) vet.

    Likely he’s a world war 2 vet, born in 1921.

  4. Thanks for the thanks. Only saw 2 flags in Berkeley.

  5. All,
    For those who do not know (and most do not), the U.S. National Memorial for the Great War (later WWI) is the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, MO. If you have not seen it, you are missing out on a memorial that I think is as impressive as the Wall and that outshines the WWII memorial in its symbolism and elegance. The museum was redone in the 90s; though the Memorial is not enough for a full day, it does sit across from Hallmark’s Crown Center museum and visitor center and next to the historic Union Station (also with museums and displays).
    My family donated several artefacts to the museum, including medals from my great-great uncle Renault and pieces from the Hummel branch. (Yep, the family roots are an interesting story).
    Happy Veterans’ Day to all, and be well.
    SGT Dave
    “He ain’t heavy…”

  6. All,
    A separate entry, inspired by the writings here and there across the net.
    I remember on this day one William Cooley, Sergeant, US Army, who passed in 1995. William served with the 101st Airborne in the Glider Infantry Regiment during WWII. His official records were destroyed in the St. Louis fire; however his family recovered his awards and his career can be summed up in these four ribbons and bits of brass:
    North Africa and Europe Campaign Ribbon with four stars and spearhead device.
    Germany Occupation Ribbon
    Bronze Star with V for Valor
    Purple Heart with two Oak Leaf Clusters
    Orders recovered stated that William was a “Forward Observer, Military Intelligence”; this means he was part of the leading echelons of Patton’s forces in North Africa, then in Europe.
    He was inodinately proud when his grandson joined the military and took on the responsibilty of a Military Intelligence professional; he never said why.
    He never spoke of his service, save to say he was a good sergeant and proud of his son and his grandson for achieving NCO rank and their service.
    And I still miss my grandfather; I was unable to attend his funeral because of an ongoing mission.
    SGT Dave
    “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.” – George S. Patton

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