I know the US government recognizes this holiday Monday, but I am a historian and recognize that on the 11th hour, of the 11th month, at the 11th hour is when the Great War came to an inglorious end. Because I write biographies of Great War figures (Graf von Luckner, Frank Luke, Frederick Zinn, and my upcoming book on Bert Hall,) I recognize the significance of getting the day right. It’s not just about being a federal holiday in the US, it is a day of honor and respect with our allies overseas who lost a generation of men in a horrific meat grinder of a war.
Honoring our veterans shouldn’t be limited a single day out of the year. It should be an unconscious acknowledgment of the role of the military in our lives. This is not just about the men and women in the service, but their families as well.
When I wrote my book Lost Eagles, I became exposed to the MIA/POW issue as it pertained to WWI and WWII. Honoring the living is important – but so is respecting those whose final fates still have not been determined; and their families who never received closure. The plight of those that were prisoners of war or those that have gone missing whose remains have never been found has a profound impact on those they left behind. When I started that book I thought it was important for the sake of honor to bring our missing men home. I learned that it was more important to the families.
So on this Veteran’s Day my heartfelt thanks and appreciation go to the families of those that serve and those that have never come home. We have not forgotten, nor will we, the sacrifices that you all have made.