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Remembering Why We Have Veterans Day

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OK, I'm from another generation. I'm a Baby Boomer. I know it's a ridiculous term -- and even though most of us are in our 50s and 60s, we're still "Baby" Boomers.

Candy spelling, Iwo Jima Memorial

Candy Spelling: One of the common denominator memories we Boomers have is that holidays were always on the same day (except for Thanksgiving and Labor Day, which had to be on certain Thursdays and Mondays, respectively).

When we were growing up, Veterans Day and Columbus Day and George Washington's and Abraham Lincoln's birthdays were always on the same date, even if they didn't fall on a Monday or start or finish a long weekend. (Actually, math prevented that from happening most years.) We had days off from school, even in the middle of a week, so we could celebrate and/or think about the holidays.

That's just one reason holidays were more special, and I worry about today's younger generations.

Do they know that "Presidents Day" was originally two separate days for the two men determined to be our two most important presidents, one on February 12 to celebrate Abraham Lincoln's birth in 1809, and one on February 22 to commemorate George Washington's birth in 1732?

Veterans Day, which is back on November 11 again (for a while it moved around as the fourth Monday in November), was very important to all of us who had parents or grandparents who had served in the military -- and that was almost every member of our generation. Our family members had been in World War I or World War II, and they wore their old uniforms and marched in parades to celebrate the bravery and dedication of veterans and those who didn't return. We knew to stop and salute the veterans and be nicer to our fathers, grandfathers, and uncles who were in the "war." Tom Brokaw wrote about them as "The Greatest Generation." They gave their lives for the rest of us.

Even Halloween had a meaning when we were younger. We hadn't heard of Harry Potter or Freddy Krueger, and couldn't imagine a costume when we were older that might have a face like Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan. We were reminded that Halloween was, in addition to dressing up and getting lots of candy, the time to think about all the children UNICEF helped and do our part, too.

Holidays felt more special, maybe because each had their own special days and special meanings.

I'm glad we have fewer veterans today, and all of us know less people who have been killed or injured in war. But, we still have thousands of men and women at war for our country, and thousands more have been killed or injured just in the current wars. Many men and women who served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam are still part of our lives and memories, too.

I'm hoping parents will do some homework to tell their children what we were taught about Veterans Day and other important commemorations that are so much a part of the story of our country and its wonderful people.

And, thanks to all of you who serve our country, and to your families who suffer so much so our military can watch out for the rest of us.

next: Levi Johnston: My All-Out Fight for Tripp
1 comments so far | Post a comment now
Sonnie November 12, 2009, 8:51 AM

I am so proud of my 11 y/o daughter and her friend. They both made an effort to personally thank the veterans they saw yesterday.

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