Veterans’ Day is one of those holidays that are easy to forget. Josh and I have the day off from school today, and as we were driving to a local coffee shop for a leisurely breakfast, we reflected on our midweek break. Rhode Island gives us the day off to celebrate our veterans, but how much are we really thinking of them as we relish a rare day of freedom? Josh’s mom, who teaches in Connecticut, is in school today, since the state decided to commemorate the day with special programs in schools instead of a day off. And isn’t that a better way to mark the occasion?
Today we’re meant to honor those who have served our country, and to mark the passing of those who have fallen. I’d wager that few of my students are thinking of these men and women today, as they sleep in or head to the mall. Honestly, were it not for my conversation with Josh this morning, I’d have forgotten, too. But World War I began only a hundred years ago, with hostilities ceasing ninety-six years ago today. Even if that war seems distant, the world is still embroiled in conflicts that destroy lives and tear countries to pieces.
So today, I want to pause to recall the family members I know who have served. My mom’s father, who rarely mentions his time during the Korean War. My dad’s father, who trained for duty in World War II but saw the war end while he was recuperating from a bad illness. My great-uncle, who drove an ambulance as part of the American Field Service during WWII. My great-grandfather, who served in WWI and also on the Mexican border as he joined the hunt for Pancho Villa. And their families, who supported war efforts from home and worried for their safety.
We don’t talk much about wars in my family–I know little more than the snatches of stories listed above. But I hope we always remember our loved ones who have given their sweat and blood for this country, and thank those who are still living.