by Bob Sparrow
If you’re reading this on Monday morning it may have just reminded you that yesterday was Veteran’s Day. If you’re reading this after Monday, you may have just been reminded that you missed Veteran’s Day – it’s easy to do. I’m going to give our blog followers the benefit of the doubt and assume that they were well-aware of the holiday because if you’re reading our blog then you’re among the most intelligent people on the planet. I don’t know about you, but I heard more than once over the weekend things like, “Is Monday a holiday, what is it Columbus Day or something?” Veteran’s Day is probably our least known about and remembered federal holiday. Why is that? How has it become so easy to marginalize a day that we all should remember and celebrate?
The history of Veteran’s Day perhaps lends itself to its enigmatic reputation. The holiday was created as a celebration of an armistice signed between the Allies and Germany at the end of World War I in 1918 at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, thus Veteran’s Day is November 11th. However, the Treaty of Versailles, officially ending the war, wasn’t signed until June 1919, but our government didn’t let the facts of history get in the way of the creation of a new federal holiday.
When I recently asked people to explain Veteran’s Day, they mostly said something like, it’s a day to celebrate our veterans. I think the name gave it away. When I ask them what they are going to do to celebrate, they usually just looked at me funny and said, “Celebrate?” Some will say solemnly something like “We’ll celebrate by remembering those who gave their lives for our country.” I’m tempted to remind them that that is Memorial Day, but I don’t. After hearing a lot of confusion about this holiday, I decided to compare Veteran’s Day with other holidays in terms of how we celebrate them or what is associated with them and see if there wasn’t some way to get Veteran’s Day on the same level as some of our more ‘popular’ holidays.
Martin Luther King Day – recognizing civil rights
- Valentine’s Day – flowers, candy, dinner for your ‘sweetheart’
- St. Patrick’s Day – wearing green and drinking
- Easter – going to church, hunting for eggs, eating ham
- Memorial Day – remembering out fallen warriors
- 4th of July – fireworks, barbecue, parades
- Labor Day – celebrate the worker, last barbecue of the summer
- Halloween – scary costumes and candy
- Thanksgiving – turkey and football
- Christmas/Chanukah – religious, food and gift giving
- New Year’s – drinking and making resolutions that we never keep
So it would seem that in order to make Veteran’s Day more popular, like our other holidays, we need to create more customs around it like traditional garb and food. Perhaps on Veteran’s Day we should all dress in camo gear and pop open a can of c-rations to feast on. It also might be nice to commit to memory the words of Alan Alexander, who said, “A veteran is someone who at some point in his or her life writes a blank check to the United States of America in an amount up to and including the loss of his or her life.”
Thank you to all who have served – we owe you a great deal.