The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in the year 1918. Do you know what this statement refers to?
Many today have no idea nor do they care what is means. That’s a shame because if we don’t understand what that statement stands for, we don’t understand the 20th century and what it means for us today.
On November 11, 1918 at the eleventh hour an armistice was signed to end hostilities of World War I. Everyone involved agreed to end the tragedy that had devoured Europe for over four years. The Treaty of Versailles was signed the following year, officially ending the “war to end all wars.” Hindsight allows us the luxury of realizing how damaging that treaty was and that it directly led to the next war twenty years later.
But Veterans Day isn’t about the treaty or the results of it. The day is rather about the men and women who serve their country. As of 2016 there are approximately 20 million veterans: 91% men, 9% women. I am in the 9% category, along with my oldest daughter. My mother was also a veteran. That’s three generations of women veterans in the family. I’m proud of that fact.
But another fact is that the number of veterans is only about 10% of the population, which is sad. Sad because 90% of our population will never have had the opportunity or access to valuable lessons learned while serving our country.
Learning to live crammed into barracks with people from all segments of society, which opens eyes to our fellow American’s life experiences. Military life takes you around the world giving unexpected personal growth opportunities. In short, the military forces a person to grow up, to mature in every aspect imaginable. The military gives us the good fortune to meet people that enrich our lives and understanding of other’s perspectives. You laugh, cry and complain with those of different races, religions and political beliefs. You form a bond that lasts a lifetime. The bond is the fact you have something in common that most of the population will never have. YOU ARE A VETERAN.