The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

November 10, 2013

Thank a veteran today and every day

By Budd McLaughlin
Columnist

— Ted was 19 at the invasion of Normandy.

Brad was 21 on a submarine in the South Pacific.

Ben was 20 on a frozen battlefield in Korea.

John was 22 in the jungles of Vietnam.

So, what were you doing when you were that age?

Tomorrow, we honor Ted, Brad, Ben, John and others who wore — and still wear — the uniforms of the U.S. military.

For a bit of history, Veterans Day originated as Armistice Day, which was celebrated in 1919 as the first anniversary of the end of World War I — at 11 a.m. Nov. 11, 1918. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 setting Nov. 11 as a day of “thanksgiving” with prayer and activities to perpetuate peace.

After World War II and the Korean War, which saw millions of Americans serve in the military, Congress and President Eisenhower changed “Armistice Day” to “Veterans Day” in 1954.

Meanwhile, the lives of those four men and the millions of others were forever changed when they committed themselves to serving us and protecting our freedoms.

Those four names, by the way, were not picked at random. Three of those men are my uncles and one — Ben — is my father.

Like a lot of us, Veterans Day carries a special meaning as I think about what they did at such a young age while knowing what I did when I was their age — I was in college — as well as two of my sons (my youngest is a high school senior). But my oldest son is a lieutenant in the Army National Guard so he may one day have to deploy overseas to defend our interests and way of life.

So, on the 11th day of the 11th month, we salute those who have served and are serving.

However, for all they’ve done and for all they’re doing, it just doesn’t seem right to thank them just one day a year.

But, today, tomorrow and every day, as one proud son, nephew and father, I say “Thank you.”

Budd McLaughlin is managing editor of The News Courier.