Honoring Veteran’s Day 2017

Veterans DayOn November 11 we will observe Veteran’s Day. Some will begin this observance on Friday November 10, let’s not treat this as just a three day weekend; but remember it is a day designated to honor all who served their country when called. Unlike Memorial Day, which is dedicated to remembering those who lost their lives in the service of their country, Veteran’s Day is a day to honor all American veterans of all wars-living and deceased. There are over 23 million veterans in the United States, nine million of whom are over 65 years old. Nearly two million of those veterans are women, and over two million are veterans from World War II. I would encourage each one of you to seek out a current or past individual who is or has served in our military service and thank him or her for their dedicated and loyal service to our country.

Allow me to take a few moments to provide some historical data concerning Veteran’s Day.  Veterans Day is the anniversary of the signing of the armistice, which ended World War I. On November 11, 1918 an armistice between Germany and the Allied nations came into effect.  On November 11, 1919, Armistice Day was commemorated for the first time. In 1926, the United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I and declared that the armistice anniversary should be commemorated with prayer and thanksgiving.  Congress requested the President to issue a “Proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all government building on November 11”.  On May 13, 1938, Congress made November 11 in each year as a legal holiday, known as Armistice Day.  Initially the day was intended to honor veterans of World War I.  World War II and the Korean War created as large influx in “military veterans” which caused veterans service organizations to urge Congress to change the word Armistice to Veterans.  On June 1, 1954 Congress approved the change and November 11 became Veterans Day to honor all American veterans, where ever and whenever they had served. November 11, 1954 was the first “Veterans Day”.  In 1971 Veterans Day observation was moved to the fourth Monday in October of each year. Disagreeing with this change, many states continued to observe Veterans Day on November 11. In 1975 President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 which moved the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 beginning in 1978 onward.

On this Veterans Day let us make sure we honor and thank all military personnel who served the United States in all wars, and particularly living veterans.   No one war or military action our country has asked its citizens to leave their family and friends for should be considered nobler than others. From World War I to our current Global War on Terror America’s men and women have been drafted or volunteered into service to answer a call to duty.  Since I am a Vietnam Veteran; I ask your permission to allow me to speak about some aspects of that conflict.  Most Vietnam Vets came of age for Military service during the 60’s; we are now in our 60’s. At the age of 18 I entered the United States Army in 1967 at Fort Polk, LA; after serving a short Tour of Duty in Germany I arrived in Vietnam in April 1969. In April 1970 with the Grace of GOD I returned to the United States and did not become one the 58,267 names on the Vietnam Memorial Wall who did not return to their family and friends.  I saw less combat than some and more than others.  I am proud of my service in Vietnam and of the recognition received for that service. I proudly display my Vietnam Service Medal with 3 Bronze Service Stars, the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Unit Citation, and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal in my home. Though the Vietnam War may have been during a controversial period in American History; America’s citizens of that time did what their forefathers did and what their children have done since then; we came when called.

A review of the Vietnam Memorial Wall reveals some interesting facts concerning those who lost their lives during that war. President George Bush made the comment “Carved on these walls is the story of America, of a continuing quest to preserve both Democracy and decency, and to protect a national treasure that we call the American dream. During the Vietnam era three sets of fathers and sons lost their lives in Vietnam.  Most personnel killed in the Vietnam War were young men just beginning their adult life.

8,283 were 19 years old

33,103 were 18 years old

12 were 17 years old

5 were 16 years old

1 was only 15 years old

The oldest person to be killed was 63 years old

More than 17,000 of those killed were married

997 were killed on their first day in Vietnam

1,448 were killed on their last day in Vietnam

Thirty-one sets of parents lost two of their sons during the Vietnam War.

54 soldiers who attended Thomas Edison High School in Philadelphia lost their lives in Vietnam.

The state to lose the highest number of its citizens as a result of the Vietnam War was West Virginia at 711

January 31, 1968 was the date for the most casualty deaths in a single day with 245

The most casualty deaths for a single month was May 1968 with 2, 415

Vietnam Veterans received a lukewarm welcome upon returning home from their service, however most remained proud of their service and the role of the United States in the Vietnam War. Despite the myth of Vietnam Veterans being chronically impaired and being stereotyped concerning drugs and alcohol; most of us married, found jobs, and successfully reintegrated into American society. Many became successful businessmen and even politicians.

I encourage everyone to celebrate the holiday as it was intended-thank those veterans who survived their tours of duty, seek out families of those whose loved ones did not return and express your appreciation for their love ones sacrifice, and honor those who have passed away after returning from a hostile environment. Remember there are no noble wars, just noble warriors.

My GOD Bless each one of you.

The above was submitted by Wayne Smith, a veteran, former correctional officer, former Mayor of Texarkana, Arkansas, and Manager for the New Haven Golf Club.  Wayne is active in the community and in community politics through the local Miller County Republican Committee where he is currently serving his second term as Chairman.  The Four States News appreciates Wayne’s input for Veteran’s Day 2017, but more importantly we appreciate Wayne’s service to our country.


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