Today began as Armistice Day, marking the end of "The War to End All Wars" also known as World War One, but obviously and sadly, failing to achieve its goal, hence the numerical suffix. For most of the thirty-five nations who fought in it, it lasted the better part of five years, from 1914 to 1918; we here in the United States didn't become a combatant until 1917 but made up in ferocity of engagement what we lacked in length of deployment. The world one hundred or so years ago was very different than the one in which we live and is so unlike today it's as if it were another universe. If we survive as a country and culture for another one hundred years, what will now look like to those here then, I wonder.
There are many observances around the country today. And like ours in Norwich, Connecticut, at eleven this morning in the Village of Taftville's Memorial Park, the ceremonies are often simple with little pomp and circumstance as is probably most befitting to celebrate a well-shared national experience. In 2009, the last year I could find verifiable statistics, there were nearly twenty-two million veterans among us, and it takes every kind of people to make a world and to serve in uniform.
Today is NOT Memorial Day. We honor all those who served in our nation's armed forces, living and deceased. As we edge ever closer to our first full decade of war as a consequence of events in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the size of our veteran population, the imperative and importance of taking care of all those who are wounded in body and/or in spirit grows. Veterans Day really becomes a Day of National Remembrance and Recognition of all the characteristics, embodied by those who serve as well as those who wait for those for serve, that allow us to remain the freest nation in the history of world.
I'm old now but I can remember the boy I was who listened to a Navy veteran of the War in the Pacific during World War Two, just elected President of the United States, urging us all to "....pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty." Service to others, like any other habit, becomes second-nature when performed often enough. Last week's elections capped a lot of discussion, and more, on determining what's wrong with our nation. Today is a day to remember all that is right with us, and with one another.