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The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month Armistice was declared to end the First World War, in 1918. It was the first war in which the United States participated on an international scale and was to be the war that would end all wars. This was not to be the case, in fact, Americans have been fighting battles somewhere in the world the entire time I’ve been alive.
I grew up in Georgetown, KY during World War II and remembrance of this day was taken very seriously because there were few, if any, of the families living in that small town who did not have someone engaged in that terrible struggle. It made no difference as to your race, color, or religion; the United States was at war defending our homeland and the rights of people to live their own lives.
It was not unusual for the Superintendent to come to the door of your classroom and ask to see one of your classmates. Everyone knew that their father, brother, uncle, or cousin would never return home. Many today might call it indoctrination, but the rituals we observed during that time remained with us our entire lives producing a stalwart patriotism that is pragmatic and enduring.
A school day would begin with everyone standing by their desk and saluting the American flag that hung in every classroom followed by a reciting of the Lord’s prayer. It didn’t matter that I shared a desk with Faye Kravtz, who was Jewish. She was praying too for her uncle who was in Europe and didn’t come home.
On Armistice Day as it was then called each room went to the auditorium for the rite. The Superintendent gave a short address, at Eleven O’clock silence was decreed as somewhere outside a bugler blew Taps.
Later Congress declared the day to be called Veterans Day to honor all the men and women who have or are serving in our armed forces. Across this great nation when the clock strikes Eleven A.M. there is a moment of silence and the bugle will sound. It began over one hundred years ago and with a lit of effect on our part it will remain so for future generations.
This is the way we honor the men and women who have or are members of the brave wall who defend us from harm. So join with me in saying THANK YOU for your dedication and sacrifice on this day and everyday.