County Corner: Veterans Day – Nov. 11, 2022

Ronald G. Rios, director of the Middlesex County Board of Commissioners

Veterans Day is held on the anniversary of the end of World War I, for which fighting stopped at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918 ― the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. It is on Veterans Day that we honor all veterans, living and deceased, who served in the military during all wars ― not just World War I. Without their service and sacrifice we would not be able to enjoy the freedom that we have today in our great nation.

Many may not know the history of Veterans Day. Originally known as “Armistice Day,” it was first celebrated on the one-year anniversary of the end of World War I. The name was changed to Veterans Day in the United States in 1926 when Congress passed a resolution.

While Veterans Day is an excellent opportunity to honor the brave individuals who have served and are serving our nation, it is important to look for opportunities to show veterans our respect and appreciation every day. We can do this by displaying the American flag, thanking a veteran for his or her service to our country, and donating to various organizations that support veterans, such as the Vietnam Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, and the Wounded Warriors Program ― just to name a few. These organizations help our veterans with education, housing, and medical services. Upon their return home, many of our veterans also work with these organizations to help provide that support.

Remember, a simple and sincere “Thank You” goes a long way. It may not seem like a lot, but it can be very meaningful for a veteran to know that their service is remembered and appreciated.

Each year there is a theme for Veterans Day, and for 2022 the theme is “Honor.” A word that signifies all our veterans. They fulfill their duty to our nation with honor and it is up to each of us to honor their service and sacrifice.

Each year, at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, the President of the United States places a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. The president is accompanied by members from each branch of the military. A bugle sounds when the wreath is placed on the tomb. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier represents all our fallen veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice. The inscription on the tomb reads:

 Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.

Before and during Veterans Day you will see red poppies displayed and sold as donations. Poppies became a symbol of Veterans Day after Canadian serviceman and poet John McCrae penned a famous poem titled “In Flanders Fields” in the wake of the bloody World War I battle in the Flanders region of Belgium in 1915. McCrae lost his close friend and fellow soldier during the Battle of Ypres. After performing the burial service, Lt. Col. McCrae noted how poppies grew quickly among the graves of the men buried in the fields. Inspired by this sight, he wrote “In Flanders Fields” the following day. The poem signifies the sacrifices that were made:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

On Veterans Day ― and throughout the year ― remember our veterans and their service to our nation along with their families. Attend an event in your community which you can locate on your county’s website.

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