Victor Johnson, Career Facilitator – US Air Force Veteran
In 1918, in the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, the Armistice was signed that ended the ‘War to End All Wars’. One year later, Armistice Day was established to recognize the veterans and those who died in that war. In 1926, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution for the annual observance of Armistice Day. It wasn’t until a World War II veteran named Raymond Weeks organized a National Veterans Day, that parades and celebrations to honor all veterans became widespread in the United States. In 1954 President Eisenhower signed the bill that named November 11th officially, as Veterans Day.
Yet, going back to 1919, there are painful truths we have learned. World War I was not the war to end all wars. An armistice, or truce, or treaty only ends combat. All over the world, people know when one period of armed combat ends, another will begin in another place. Those who serve in the military understand that the price of war is not in the money for arms, vehicles, or supplies. Money is not lost, it only changes hands that hold it. The price of war is the loss of life and the loss of wholeness. All military men and women who have fought for our country, leave a part of themselves on the battlefield. It is impeccably encapsulated in the phrase that Cindy Smith Cyrus wrote, “All gave some, some gave all.” However, please consider that for those who have served in America’s armed forces, in combat or in vigilance, the price of service is not borne only by the service member alone.
The family of every active duty military member or veteran has also paid a price for the security of our country. For more families than should have ever felt it, there is the pain of losing a husband, wife, son, or daughter in military service. A treaty cannot bring back the dead nor can it fill the place of that person at the dinner table, in the back yard, or in the pew at church. For the family, the loss continues across generations and unfortunately, in some cases, may end the generations of a family.
Even when our military men and women come home, the family may pay the price because they become the caretaker of a mentally or physically wounded veteran. Consider the days and nights that the family of a service member spends wondering how their loved one is while they are separated. Whether it is combat or training for combat, the family continually wonders if there will be a knock at the door with news that they don’t want to hear. There are mothers and fathers who wonder if their children will recognize the other parent that has been gone so long from home.
As a proud veteran, I know that the steadfastness of my family enabled me to perform my duties to the best of my ability. The support of my family was something that they reminded me of continually. When I could not be at home, I knew that everything there would be taken care of. As we take this day to remember and thank the veterans who have so faithfully and honorably served our country, let us also take time to remember and thank the veterans’ families who served and serve, unseen, but standing by their side.