Art Parker headshot

After 9/11 the mantra of “Never forget” surfaced. The purpose of the mantra was to keep in the forefront of our minds the events of that terrible day. I agree with the mantra and the idea that we should never forget that infamous day.

But we have another “Never forget” that should be remembered. That is our veterans.

Next Monday, November 11, is Veteran’s Day.

For too many people it serves as one of those “I get off work” days. We treat President’s Day the same way. The intent is to honor those Presidents who have been dead forever. I’m not sure Washington, Lincoln and all the others long since passed will be too terribly offended if their birthday slips our memory.

But I can tell you that the American veteran that still lives, all 18 million plus today, will appreciate a remembrance of their sacrifice and service. They deserve to be remembered, and much more.

I did a small amount of research on Veteran’s and Veteran’s Day last week. Here are some of my findings:

• The military men and women who serve and protect the U.S. come from all walks of life; they are parents, children, grandparents, friends, neighbors and coworkers, and are an important part of their communities,

• Veterans Day occurs on November 11 every year in the United States in honor of the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918 that signaled the end of World War I, known as Armistice Day,

• In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially changed the name of the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day,

• In 1968, the Uniform Holidays Bill was passed by Congress, which moved the celebration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. The law went into effect in 1971, but in 1975 President Gerald Ford returned Veterans Day to November 11, due to the important historical significance of the date,

• Veterans Day is intended to honor and thank all military personnel who served the United States in all wars, particularly living veterans. It is marked by parades and church services and other means.

Wars between nations, groups and tribes will never leave us. War is terrible and I wish we could always avoid it, but we can’t. Preparation and execution of any military action takes people who are willing to make sacrifices, sometimes the ultimate sacrifice. Over the years our nation has been a participant in many wars, in some we belonged and in some we didn’t. No matter if we needed to fight or not the American veteran is the person, the direct participant, in the conflict.

We will always need those who are willing to participate, if not, we are in a huge mess. We need to remember what one of those dead Presidents celebrated on President’s Day said. “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.” That came from General and President George Washington.

A last but very disturbing piece revealed in my research. Each year, the Veteran’s Administration specialized homelessness programs provide health care to almost 150,000 homeless veterans and other services to more than 112,000 veterans. About 11% of the adult homeless population are veterans.

This is terribly bothersome. How is it that someone can leave their home and family, serve our country, often while their life is in jeopardy, and return to this country and be without a roof and a bed? I do not know the reason for this or what to do to correct it.

The least we can do is show our appreciation and respect to our veterans, not just on Veteran’s Day, but every day. Without their sacrifice we wouldn’t have the freedom to forget them, or anyone else, that gets us a day off.