Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Looking for the Soul of America


Today is Veterans Day which 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 from 1914 to 1918; we here in the United States didn't become a combatant until 1917 but made up iin ferocity of engagement what we lacked in length of deployment.

The world one hundred years ago was very different than the one in which we live and so unlike today it's as if it were another universe. If we survive as a country for another one hundred years, I wonder what now will look like to those alive then.

There’s a relationship between Election Day, last Tuesday, and today. Without the latter, I’m not sure if we have the former. I’m always impressed by how similar veterans have in common despite differences of age, sex, ethnicity, religion or political beliefs. Their composition very much reflects the nation which their service in uniform protected. Sometimes we seem to forget that. 

There are many observances across the country today. And like ours in Norwich, Connecticut, this morning at eleven in the Village of Taftville's Memorial Park, and this afternoon at one at Chelsea Parade, the ceremonies are usually understated with little pomp and circumstance as is probably most befitting to celebrate a common and shared national experience.

As of 2014, with a population of 319.2 million people, there are 21.8 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 move farther away historically if not emotionally from the tragedy and subsequent events and the consequences 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 has truly become our Day of National Remembrance and Recognition of all the characteristics, embodied by those who serve as well as those who wait for those who serve, which allow us to remain among the freest nations in the 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, who urged us 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 across our country continue and extend conversations about what’s in need of repair from sea to shining sea. Today should remind us of all that is right with us, and with one another.
-bill kenny

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