Today is Veteran’s Day.
Thank you to all veterans who have served in any of the military branches. I am related to many who have served. I am friends of many more. I sincerely appreciate the hard work, dedication, devotion, and sacrifice that come with serving in the military.
President Wilson said this on the occasion of the first observance of Veteran’s Day, originally called Armistice Day:
To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…
Thank you all who have served, are serving, and will serve in the future. This country and its people do appreciate your service.
However, in addition to thanks, we also must say, “Forgive us.”
Forgive us, for we have failed our veterans in worst ways possible.
Because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy.
About 12% of the adult homeless population is veterans. That means that on any given night, over 49,000 veterans have no home to sleep in. Mental health issues are prevalent among veterans; especially those who have seen combat. PTSD is probably the most well-known issue, but there is so much more. Add to that, a large number of these mental health issues co-exist with alcoholism and drug addiction. When soldiers go untreated, it becomes difficult to secure a job and find a home.
If we are truly going to be a nation that shows sympathy, we should first start showing sympathy to those we honor for their sacrifice and service.
With peace and justice in the councils of the nations.
We live in a country of peace. We live in a country of justice. If you are lucky enough to be a part of the privileged racial and socio-economic classes.
Look no further than Ferguson, MO. Look no further than the mascot of the NFL franchise in Washington, D.C. Look no further than the defensive reactions of privileged people to both of those statements.
Our veterans fought for freedom. For many in our country today, freedom is a dream that is not yet realized. If we are truly going to be a nation that exhibits peace and justice to the nations, let us first exhibit peace and justice to the members of our own nation.
So today we say thank you. Even if we are conscientious objectors or pacifists, we still say thank you to our veterans and their families for the sacrifices they have made.
Yet we also say forgive us. Forgive us for we have turned our backs on our veterans too many times. Forgive us for we have not upheld the freedom for which they fought.
Let us begin today to say thank you by caring for our sick and homeless veterans. Let us begin today to say thank you by advocating for peace and justice for all of our citizens.
After all, that’s what Veteran’s Day is supposed to be about.
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