By Greg Ritchie
HOUSTON COUNTY – It was called the war to end all wars. The casualties of the First World War would topple governments today. At the time, however, it was thought that one good European war would straighten out the continent and be the last war in history.
We know now it was the first part of a bigger conflict to come. However, the seemingly endless war did finally come to a close as the guns fell silent on Nov. 11 at 11:11 a.m. This day was celebrated around the world as Armistice Day and even made a national holiday in the U.S. in 1938.
After World War II and the Korean War, it was renamed Veterans Day – to acknowledge not only that wars may be around a while longer, but also to recognize the men and women who put their lives on hold to serve and sacrifice – even in peacetime.
The country was united after Pearl Harbor in a way maybe only matched by the events of Sept. 11. The Korean and Vietnam conflicts left some people at home confused – and many veterans neglected and mistreated. The later wars have again caused many to wonder if it is all worth the sacrifice.
Having interviewed many veterans now, they have one thing in common. True, some were drafted and some joined eagerly answering their country’s call. Some thought more about the education or travel benefits. They all went in – nervous and afraid – knowing that they might make the ultimate sacrifice if need be. Whether they flew a plane, drove a tank, cooked the chow or shuffled papers – they all deserve our gratitude and respect.
The U.S. armed forces are having a hard time filling recruitment quotas. Even large signing bonuses and other incentives just have not brought the numbers they need to keep the force fully staffed. With new wars and rumors of wars, this country might just need large numbers of young people willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.
There are many ways to celebrate Veterans Day: flying a flag, attending one of the local events, dusting off those old pictures of grandpa from the war, flying a flag. The best way is to interact with one of the veterans themselves. Shake their hands. Thank them for their service. Give them a big hug. Buy their lunch. And let us all pray for peace and good judgement on behalf of our leaders to spend their lives very carefully. Let us pray for those who have served and pray our current soldiers all stay home and live long, quiet lives.
Several local events are schedules to honor veterans this week:
- Kennard ISD will honor veterans at a breakfast Friday, Nov. 10 at 9 a.m.
- Grapeland ISD will hold a ceremony at Lorena Shultz Auditorium, Thursday, Nov. 9 at 10 a.m.
- Latexo ISD will have a veterans breakfast and ceremony Thursday, Nov. 9, beginning at 8:30 a.m.
- Veterans Day Fish Fry at the Grapeland Citizen Center along with the Grapeland Noon Lions Club, Saturday, Nov. 11 from 11 a.m.-2p.m., with free food for veterans
- Clyde Black will hold a book signing for his new book about his experiences in Vietnam at Stories of Texas Saturday, Nov. 11.
Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]