There were decades not too long ago when patriotism was at a low level, especially during the Vietnam War era when the draft was very unpopular, due to a great extent because it was not fair. But through all eras, military veterans’ organizations have endeavored to keep the spirit of sacrifice alive that is exemplified by those who served.
So we come to another Veterans Day when all who served their country in the military are recognized. Those who now are serving also are given recognition.
But we also need to recognize all of the veterans’ organizations, especially the two largest, The American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. They have, down through the years, kept the fire burning of the spirit of sacrifice that has been and is being made by the members of our military. Another group that needs to be thanked for remembering our military is the federal agency that takes care of our military cemeteries around the world. Our military cemeteries are second to none in regard to burial grounds of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. The care is immaculate!
Credit is due to the Department of Veterans Affairs, National Cemetery Administration, for 131 veterans’ cemeteries in 39 states and Puerto Rico. Our government also maintains cemeteries in countries where our military members were killed in combat, and they are in excellent condition also. They are maintained by the American Battlefield Monuments Commission, which overseas 24 cemeteries and 26 monuments on foreign soils.
During our history, we have lost so many outstanding young men, and some women, in wars that have kept this country free. We also have had members of the military wounded, many disabled for life. Our veterans’ hospitals are filled with Purple Heart holders, and others who served and are ill. Other veterans have carried with them the scars of war, both mental and physical. They don’t talk much about it. It is difficult to explain combat experiences to those who have never been exposed to the horrors of war.
There is a bond among veterans that brings them together in organizations that promote patriotism, remembrance of the sacrifices made, and are civic-minded when it comes to the communities where they live. The military ingrains in its members a certain discipline that cannot be received anywhere else. Perhaps the most important of all values that the military experience teaches is respect for this country’s freedoms, the flag and what it stands for, and the desire to keep the liberties we have.
It is sad to say that many of the present generation know nothing about this country’s military history, and the sacrifices that have been made to keep this republic’s values. An example that might be said to be typical of today’s young people: This past week the editor of this newspaper was speaking to two young salesladies, both college graduates. They were asked if they knew when World War II occurred. Neither had a clue! Dumb and dumber!
Our educational system has failed when it comes to American history. Taxpayers aren’t getting their money’s worth in public education in the teaching of American history. Why aren’t school board members demanding that American history be given a high priority, with emphasis on the sacrifices that have been made by members of the military? Why are our colleges and universities graduating students who are illiterate when it comes to American history? The answer is that Americans aren’t demanding more from our educators and the systems that employ them.
The veterans’ organizations can’t do it alone in teaching military history. They have programs that try to reach students, but cooperation isn’t always there from our educators.
We need a Veterans Day more than ever today because it is a reminder of the sacrifices made to keep America the land of the free!