Monday, November 12th, Veterans Day will be observed here in the United States, which happens when the actual date (the 11th) falls on a weekend. This year it marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One, and follows the 243rd Marine Corps birthday. That's quite a weekend line-up.
Over the weekend and into Monday there are, of course, many memorials, ceremonies, and dedications. There's a new museum in Ohio. There are discounts and special special deals for vets at establishments across the country. There was even a pretty great reconciliation on Saturday Night Live, which included advice from newly elected member of Congress Dan Crenshaw to tell a vet "Never Forget" -- it's good advice.
Veterans Day grew from Armistice Day, that aforementioned celebration of the end of the Great War, the War to End All Wars, which is now one hundred years, and many more wars in the past. Now it is the day to celebrate those who fought in all wars, in all actions and engagements, who served around the world and over the decades.
Distinct from Memorial Day, it's a day to remember, honor, help, or just celebrate American military members and veterans who are here with us still, as well as those who are gone.
Veterans transcend every barrier. We are in all walks of life, all jobs, all levels of income. We are of every race and religion, every color, every upbringing. 'Never forget', said former Navy SEAL Dan Crenshaw. Truth.
What the members of our military do every day, what they did at home and abroad, in war and in peace, hardly requires explaining here. You probably know a veteran. Many of you are related to one ore more. We know what a veteran is, and we know why to celebrate their day. The stories are all around us.
In fact, stories are the basis of the new National Veterans Memorial and Museum in Columbus, Ohio.
“You’re not going to see tanks here, or planes hanging from the ceiling,” said Amy Taylor of the Columbus Downton Development Corp. to Stars and Stripes. “What you are going to see and hear are the stories – Why did someone decide to serve? What was it like to take the oath, serve in combat? What was it like to come home?”
Every year, I think of the stories from my grandfathers, both of whom fought in World War II. And of my friends and fellow Marines over the years, who have served across the globe.
On Friday night, at a Sprint store in downtown Pittsburgh, I spoke with an Army veteran who was only two months out in the civilian world. His manager, too, had served. We traded stories for a while, and soon another customer joined in, also former military. I tell you this not just because it was gratifying, and not only so if you live in Pittsburgh you can stop by the store and wish those former active duty soldiers a happy Veterans Day, but because it's a perfect picture of America and those who have served. After the fight, after the uniform, they come home. They get jobs. They live their lives. Heck, some even vote Democrat.
But always, there is this common bond. I hope on Monday you'll share in that bond. Americans could use some bonding these days. Because we are in a chaotic world, and these are chaotic times, but we should have each other's backs.
Just as we always have between us and the void the men and women out there, wearing their uniforms, standing watch.
Happy Veterans Day. And Semper Fi.