Veterans Day began as Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I on "the eleventh day of the eleventh hour of the eleventh month" of 1918. Today, this holiday honors the men and women who have defended the United States through service in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard.
On this day I think of the sacrifices made by many friends who served in Vietnam and of all those who have served in the defense of the United States. In particular I think of family and the service of a great uncle in World War I and two uncles in World War II.
The other family veterans from the world war era I knew very well. Uncle Hollis, better known as "Red," and Uncle Charles, both served in the Pacific during World War II. In 1943-44, Red was assigned to Barber's Point Naval Air Station in Hawaii while his brother-in-law, Charles, served at Pearl Harbor. The facilities were a mere five miles apart but almost one year passed before they knew they were neighbors. On hearing the news, they resolved to meet for a photograph at the first opportunity. Here's that photo, taken at Waikiki with Red (l) and Charles (r) together at last.
I never experienced military service and will never know how it shapes a person inside and out but I do know that every veteran has paid a very personal price that enables us to enjoy life in this bountiful nation. On November 11 - Armistice Day or Veterans Day - we should take some time to remember those who have served their country and its people. I offer up to all of them my sincerest admiration and thanks on this day and every day.