World War I is known at the time as The Great War. It officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of the war to end all wars.
In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations?"
What does Veterans Day mean to you?
Numerous wars and conflicts have taken place since the signing of the Armistice that long ago day in 1918; thereby adding to the veteran population.
So many have spoken about all that our veterans have given; their sacrifice, their time, their lives.
There are many veterans, men and women, which I have spoken with over the years. Some with burdens heavier than others, with a darkness that continues to hover over them all these years later. There are those veterans that have fought battles that were not boots on ground in a combat zone.
They all, each one of them, raised their right hand and swore to defend our country against all enemies foreign and domestic. They wore a uniform, for however long they served, they took that oath and declared that they would stand for our country and our freedoms.
As I get to know folks and listen to their stories, should they choose to share them, I find one thing that is common among them all.
The little things mean so much more. Those brief moments of joy or peace. A quiet evening sitting on a porch, a morning walk through the snow, the sound of a child's laughter. Maybe it is a song or a book that brings that moment of peace. Those moments may come with lengthy spans in between, but they do come and when they do, they are treasured and held tight.
With the veterans I personally know and have been blessed to meet, life is respected and honor is given to those who have given so much. In today's world, with honor, respect and integrity seemingly in short supply, speak with a veteran; ask them what this country means to them, ask them what our flag means to them.
I've met older veterans who blazed the trail for this generation of veterans, who stood up for our country in the face of tremendous adversity and did it with courage most could not even fathom.
I've met younger veterans who have fought or are fighting a much different war, and with that comes different types of demons that they may carry with them, and along with that, the same courage and strength in the face of adversity as that our older generations have faced.
In all I have met, those brave warriors, the men and women of our military, is a sense of patriotism and brotherhood that will never leave them. It is who they are and who they have become.
They are the men and women who stand on the front lines, regardless of the cost, to defend our freedoms and those freedoms of so many around the world.
They are strong, resilient, and courageous. They are American Veterans, and I for one, will continue to pray that their time on this earth is filled with those peaceful moments in time, knowing that they did what they could to protect what is right and good.
May God bless America and those who have or will defend her.
Kim Lengling is a local author, co-chair of Project Support Our Troops and co-founder of Embracing Our Veterans. She can be reached at 814-450-0622 or [email protected]