Remembering Veterans This Veteran's Day
By Region 8 Webmaster John Davis

At eleven o’clock this morning, all around the country there will be renditions of “Taps” played by a lone musician as once again the United States celebrates Veteran’s Day. This annual holiday is designed to recognize our men and women who have served their country through military service. In 1938 Congress passed a bill to observe November 11 as Armistice Day. At 11:00AM on November 11, 1918 the Germans signed the Armistice, an order was issued for all firing to cease; so the hostilities of the First World War ended.

After World War II, there were many new veterans who had little or no association with World War I. The word, “armistice,” means simply a truce; therefore as years passed, the significance of the name of this holiday changed. Leaders of Veterans’ groups decided to try to correct this and make November 11 the time to honor all who had fought in various American wars, not just in World War I.

Veterans Day seems to take on a greater significance during times of war, with this year being no exception. The United States recently passed the 2,000 mark for casualties in Iraq, once again exemplifying the cost of war. In the 229 years of America’s existence as a nation, over 43,000,000 citizens have served in the military with almost 1.2 million giving their life in service to our country. It is sad that the Civil War holds the mark for the most U.S. casualties in a war, with almost 500,000 dying on each side.

This sacrifice reaches farther than our citizens, for over 520,000 U.S. soldiers died in World War I and World War II, protecting not only the freedoms of American citizens but those of millions in Europe and Asia as well. All across Europe there are military graveyards that contain thousands of white crosses marking the final resting place of those brave Americans who stood in the gap to defend freedom and preserve democracy.

On June 6, 1944 British and U.S. forces landed forces landed behind the German costal fortifications at Normandy and stormed the beaches in what has become known as D-Day. Thousands gave their lives as the tide of the war was turned in that bloody morning in June.
Each day we exercise many freedoms that we take for granted; freedoms that have been earned in blood and paid with lives. The losses go beyond the soldiers, for each death represents a lost son, daughter, father, mother, brother or sister. America truly owes a debt to those who have paid so much.

Arguments can be made concerning military action, but we should always remember that our service men and women simply follow orders. Politicians declare war and the soldiers do the fighting. This has been true since the first war was fought and will continue until the final war is waged. The soldier’s life is one of honor and courage, where service to one’s country and fellow man is the highest calling.

Today all across this great land there will be parades and remembrances to honor those living and dead who have served our land. While it is very fitting we set a day aside to remember our heroes, may we never forget their sacrifices. Each day we should honor our veterans and thank them for the freedoms we enjoy.

The UAW has a proud history of honoring our veterans. The International Union’s Veteran Affairs Department is currently involved in building a home in Eaton Rapids, Michigan to be used by the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Home for Children. The duplex building will house two veteran families at a time as they rebuild and recuperate from difficult life situations. The funds for the home were raised by UAW locals across the country, while laid off members in the Lansing area have done the construction. The home is slated to open in the spring of 2006. “With 25 single parent families on our waiting list, the UAW is meeting an important need for the children and families we serve nation wide,” states Patrice Green, National Home Executive Director. “Our organizations share the important mission of caring for veterans and their families. The VFW National Home for Children is ecstatic about the generosity of the UAW community.”

Today, remember the significance of the day and keep our veterans and their families in your prayers. Across the region there are many families with sons and daughters serving in the military. Never forget the sacrifice they are making this Veterans Day.

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