11 November 2007

Thoughts on Veterans’ Day

My first Veterans’ Day since returning has come and gone now. I can’t say that I did anything special. The only military-like event today was talking with the son of a friend about ROTC. The school where I teach is having an assembly for Veterans’ Day, but I’m not too sure of the content there. All in all, it has not been a very special day.

And I don’t mean to beat a dead horse, but the way that Veterans’ Day is recognized by the wider public doesn’t say much about the importance of the day or the men and women honored. There is no standard ceremony, no point in the day when we are all asked to stop, remember, and give thanks.

On ANZAC Day, Aussies and Kiwis have that moment – sunrise ceremonies.

Without doubt, it is easier for the ANZAC tradition to be encapsulated into one moment, one ceremony. The landings at Gallipoli were, if I remember correctly, the first of many brave operations over the horizon for the ANZACs.

Perhaps instead of having Veterans’ Day take the place of Armistice Day (the end of World War I), we should move it to June 6th and recognize the day – on the day, not the following Monday – when US troops, along with the UK and the Canadians, landed on the continent. Sunrise ceremonies would be quite appropriate for such a day.

Perhaps that day, that moment could give folks something to rally around. Not a slogan, not an ideology, not a sound byte. A time, a space to stop, remember, and give thanks. I could be, it should be a chance to consider again what it means to be an American, a free person, a community, a nation.

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