While Armistice Day is still celebrated in some countries in Europe, the United States began honoring all veterans, living and dead, in 1945, the birth of Veterans Day.
As someone who lived through the Vietnam War, and the nightly body counts on the nightly news broadcast, I was more than happy to see the end of the draft in this country. I sat across the table from a classmate whose birthdate had come up in the draft. Yes, that’s how things worked back then. Many years later, a co-worker told me that he was arrested for a drug offense and was given the choice between doing time or serving his country in the war as a soldier. Yes, that’s how things worked back then.
Since the end of the draft, the United States has relied on a volunteer soldier, but many times the volunteer has come from a less than desirable socio-economic standing. In other words, it has been our brothers, sisters, cousins, and friends who have been become cannon fodder for this country. For whatever reason, the children of the elite have been protected from serving in this country’s armed forces.
We, as a country have also relied on “Citizen Soldiers”, also known as the National Guard, to defend this country against our enemies. People who have families, homes, and businesses who set their personal priorities aside to defend this country against enemies, known and unknown.
We are grateful for every soldier who placed their duty above their own personal safety. We are proud of the 43 Latinos who have been awarded this country’s highest honor, the Congressional Medal of Honor. People who have gone above and beyond.
On this Veterans Day, we ask you to remember and honor those who have placed themselves in harm’s way to ensure that your safety is protected. A child who was at a recent Veterans Day ceremony said, “This is the freedomest country ever”, may we all have the spirit of that child within us.
Being Latino invites you to comment with the names of your personal soldiers on this post.