Deacon Tom Walter
I write this reflection on Monday, November 11, 2019, Veterans Day. I realize that Veterans Day will have passed by the time you read this, but I just returned home from Mass today and this is what is on my mind. The first thing that I would like to point out is that there is no apostrophe in the title of this holiday. This day is not about recognition of one veteran or certain veterans, which would be suggested by the words veteran’s or veterans’.
This day is dedicated to all veterans of the United States armed services, whether in war time or peace time, living or dead. This day is different from Memorial Day, which is a day set aside to remember and honor those who died in battle serving our country. This is an important holiday, and it is appropriate that it is observed. Men and women died so that we might retain the privilege of living in this wonderful country. Memorial Day is celebrated every year on the last Monday in May. Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, originally commemorated the end of World War One, the war to end all wars.
In 1938, November 11 became a National Holiday as a day to honor veterans of World War I. On June 1, 1954, Congress amended the commemoration by changing the word “armistice” to “veterans” so that the day would honor American veterans of all wars. In 1971, many Federal holidays were moved to Mondays to encourage people to utilize long weekends for vacations. However, most people wanted Veterans Day to remain on November 11 so this was enacted into law by President Gerald Ford in 1975. Each of us who is Baptized, is called to follow Jesus’ example as priest, prophet, and king.
The most important responsibility of a priest is to offer the sacrifice. We are a priestly people and so we are also called to offer sacrifice. We all sacrifice for our loved ones. Parents sacrifice for their children. We sacrifice for our spouses, putting their needs in front of our own. Veterans sacrificed years of their lives, some a few years and some many years, in order to serve our country and protect our freedoms. On Veterans Day, we honor all those who made this sacrifice and we thank them for their service. One day a year is not really enough, is it?