Veterans Day 2016, how the United States remembers

Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page. These photos were taken at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., in April 2005.

It’s Veterans Day, the holiday created after one of the greatest human tragedies that took the lives of millions of people around the world for no great or noble purpose in World War I. The holiday, honoring the sacrifice of the fallen and those who served, was called Armistice Day, falling on the day hostilities ended on Nov. 11, 1918, between the Allied Powers and Germany. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the holiday a year later, on Nov. 11, 1919. The proclamation noted: “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…”

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, himself one of the most celebrated commanders in U.S. history, signed the Veterans Day proclamation on June  1, 1954, officially changing the name to Veterans Day. It was not until 1968 when Veterans Day had become an official federal government holiday.

Veterans Day is a day many around the country honor the service of America’s veterans and active service members. This week, I saw many tweets honoring the 241st birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps. I recalled the writing of With The Old Breed in Peleliu and Okinawa by Eugene Sledge. It is one of the finest books I have ever read about the sacrifice the Marines made to win the bloody war in the Pacific.

I may not always agree with what our government asks our service men and women to do, but I do honor so many of the great things they have done. For starters, they helped to save the world from fascism and totalitarianism in World War II–something I am thinking about a lot since Donald Trump won in the Electoral College, though lost in the popular vote on Nov. 8, 2016. I am deeply worried knowing he is now the commander and chief of our armed forces. I trust in the leadership of our services to provide needed ballast and a steady hand, even with a leader who may care little about what men like Sledge and his buddies accomplished in far off places like Peleliu. I have hope our current men and women in uniform can be calm in these unsteady times. We need their professionalism now more than ever.

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