In many school districts children have the day off on today to commemorate Veterans Day. Like many school days off, very few students actually understand why they have the day off. For most children it’s just a free day, a day to sleep in longer than usual or to meet up at the mall with friends at noontime. My responsibility is to educate the children and even the masses on the benefits of living in a democracy and how those freedoms are secured. While we certainly have our fair share of problems and civil unrest in our nation, the liberties that we enjoy today are in large part because of men and women who have fought for our freedoms.
The beginning of the celebration of Veterans Day marked back to November 11, 1918, 98 years ago at the end of World War I also know as “The Great War” which was dubbed the war that would end all wars. It was formally ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919 in the Palace of Versailles in Versailles, France. President Woodrow Wilson declared November 11th as Armistice Day which literally means “cease fire.” President Wilson said:
“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”
Congress adopted this day and made it a national holiday that would be recognized annually with thanksgiving and prayer. It was to be a celebration to honor America’s veterans for their loyalty, love for their country, and their willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. The common good was the idea of fighting for the betterment of people in the United States and abroad. The common good, the good that benefits the common man not the rich or poor, the Caucasian, Asian, Latino or Black person, but the common good of all humanity.
I do my best to instill in my biological children as well as the wonderful young scribes at The Scribe’s Institute the concept of what “the common good” represents and to live their lives accordingly. The freedoms that we enjoy in America are multitudinous in nature and are often not afforded to citizens in other countries throughout the world. The very constitution that protects the rights of Americans is often taken for granted.
Consider the freedom to practice one’s religions peacefully and openly, the freedom to express oneself verbally (freedom of speech), the freedom to express oneself in writing (freedom of the press), the freedom to hold meeting (freedom of assembly), the freedom to ask your government to refrain from doing something (the freedom of petition) are all freedoms that are not merely written tomes from our forefathers but freedoms secured through battles and blood.
The right to equal justice under the law and the right to own property are just a few of the rights that had to be fought for. So when we think about Veterans Day, when the banks and Federal Buildings are closed to commemorate both standing and fallen veterans realize that these soldiers, these men and women of service fought and continue to fight to secure the freedoms that we so often take for granted. So the best way to honor Veterans on this Day is to contemplate just how many freedoms and rights we would not enjoy as a people had it not been for their sacrifices.
Today or sometime this weekend, do something to honor our Veterans. Attend a presentation, go to a parade or even watch the History Channel documentary on World I or another war. Do something to condition your mind to not think entitlement but rather gratefulness for all you have. Today is not about a Veterans Day sale or any of the tactics merchandisers use to get you to spend this weekend. It’s about a spirit, a spirit of gratitude, gratitude freedoms and liberties past, present, and in the future.
Dr. Aaron Lewis 11-11-16