With Veterans Day soon upon us, many newspaper writers, including other Tribune columnists, compose wonderful articles with accolades to all the veterans. As a Navy veteran myself, I thought I would give another perspective and explain why it is such a special day to me.
If you've read any of my columns, you'll notice that I enjoy including historical information about my topics. This one is no exception. On November 11, 1918, "an armistice or temporary cessation of hostilities was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the First World War." Beginning the following year, President Woodrow Wilson declared that Armistice Day, later renamed Veteran's Day, would be observed to honor all war veterans and military personnel each year. According to www.history.com, November 11th became a legal federal holiday in the United States in 1938.
Seventy-three years later, at exactly 11 o'clock a.m. in Arlington National Cemetery, a Veterans Day ceremony will include the placing of a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by the president of the United States or his representative. A bugler will play "Taps" and a color guard will present honors to America's veterans. It is an annually solemn and reverent ritual. Locally, the day is observed with similarly reverent ceremonies, parades and many other activities dedicated to honoring our area's veterans.
At the age of 18, I joined the Navy for several reasons, but mostly to earn some G.I. Bill college money and to experience new things while hopefully seeing the world. After boot camp, my duty station was at a fleet training base in San Diego. I was enlisted for eight years, including active and inactive service, and traveled to Bahrain while in the Navy Reserve. It occasionally crossed my mind that I could die while serving my country (especially when flying over the Persian Gulf in 1993), but I just performed my duties and did what I was told. By the grace of God, I returned home safely to my friends and family. If given the chance to make the choice again, I would do it without a second thought. My military experience taught me to always take pride in myself and my appearance and demeanor and that patriotism and freedom are an honored privilege, not a right.
It upsets me greatly when those around me don't remove their hats and stop talking while our national anthem is played. I can't help it, but I still get choked up when I hear old patriotic hymns like "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." My eyes well up every time I hear Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A." You see, after a particularly rough boot camp afternoon of seemingly endless exercise and berating, that song was played as I and my fellow soldiers-in-training sat on the floor crying and wanting to go home. Twenty-four years later, that song still moves me to tears and probably always will.
I've often thought it would be beneficial for our government to make enlisting in the military mandatory after high school. Other countries do it, and in my opinion it would do wonders for the youth of America by instilling in them a sense of pride and accomplishment that is sorely needed.
Speaking only for myself, I appreciate our country's respect and formality in honoring our veterans and military, but don't care much for being made an example of someone who should be honored. I prefer instead to demonstrate my own admiration for my country and fellow veterans. My thanks to all of you and God bless America.
Weatherman is a Trumbull County resident. Email her at editorial@ tribtoday.com.