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Perspective: To veterans, with gratitude

Roman Grac

We have just observed Veterans Day, one of two national holidays devoted to honoring members of our armed services. On Memorial Day we remember those who gave what Lincoln termed “the last full measure of devotion.” On this day we pause as a nation to say, “Thank you for your service.”

But why observe Veterans Day on November 11? It used to be called “Armistice Day.” In Europe it is often called “Remembrance Day.” In 1918, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, an armistice was declared, ending World War I. The guns fell silent. It was “All Quiet On The Western Front.” Veterans on this day sell poppies to commentate the heart-rending poem “In Flanders Field.” This was to be “the war to end all wars.” How perfectly charming was the thought. How perfectly naive.

The original and sobering meaning of November 11 will emerge from the way it is observed in Europe. There the observance will be achingly somber. Why? Because the British and French alone suffered almost two million casualties. Germany lost almost two million. The war devastated European society as it was then constituted.

So we should always observe this day as Americans do -- with gratitude. Let us wish fervently for more heroes to honor on Veterans Day and fewer heroes to mourn on Memorial Day.

I’m Bob Evans and that is my perspective.

Robert Evans is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics, Business and Accounting at Rockford University and Associate Director of the Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship. He is actively involved in the Rockford University public policy program, trains managers on law-related topics, is a political consultant and analyst, and also serves on non-profit boards.