Today is about our Veterans. There were a couple of miscellaneous celebrations that I could have written about, but quite honestly, I did not want to water down the importance of the contributions made to the world by our military. Our men and women are stationed around the world, they have left their families behind in many cases, and they daily put their safety and lives on the line to perform their duty. Today we honor them for all that they are, and all they have done.
Veteran’s Day – Today is Veteran’s Day, and though for many people it has come to mean just a day off from work, this is a day that should be taken seriously and spent showing our appreciation for every single veteran who has ever put on a uniform for our country. Because of these men and women we are free, because of them we can speak for ourselves, choose where and how to worship – or not, and live our lives however we see fit. The toll on our veterans is so high, but many people are unaware of just how high it is. If you have been blessed by personally knowing someone who has served in a foreign war, then perhaps you have been told stories of some of their experiences, but I’m betting you don’t know the inside story, for these are the things they don’t want you to know, but which show them for the truly brave and wonderful people that they are. You may not know how often they lie awake at night wracked with pain from injuries they have suffered during battle. You may not be aware of the horrifying nightmares that wake them when they finally DO fall to sleep. What about their reaction to sudden loud noises? Or the stress they undergo when they are in crowded or loud places? Have you ever thought about the toll that their experiences, and the post-traumatic issues from them, have on their families? When the war is over, or when their time in it is, their battles continue on for the rest of their lives. Life is never “normal” for them again. They may put on a happy face, some can’t no matter how hard they try, but inside they have changed. Some changes are for the better, many are not, but there’s nothing they can do about it. Do you know what though? And this is so important to remember . . . No matter the horror they have gone through, no matter the damage done to their bodies and their minds, they would do it all again. Let that sink in. They would do it all again for YOUR right to live free, for the rights of even those who speak out against them, they would go back to serve this country they love so much, no matter the toll it takes on their lives. Appreciate a Veteran this day, and every day. They have been there for us, let’s be there for them. To all the Veterans in my life – my father, brother, uncles, son, friends and extended “adopted” family . . . Thank you. Thank you for loving our country and our freedoms so much that you sacrificed for us. Thank you seems inadequate, but its all I have to give. Thank you.
Armistice Day (Death/Duty Day) – It had been a long four years as soldiers fought WWI. On October 17th, 1918 the final Allied push began towards the German border. As the American, British and French armies advanced, the alliance between the Central Powers began to fall apart. Turkey signed an armistice at the end of October, followed on November 3rd by Austria-Hungary. Germany was crumbling from within. The sailors of the High Seas Fleet, when faced with the prospect of returning to sea, mutinied on October 29th. It took a mere few days, and the entire city of Kiel was in their control and revolution spread throughout the country. The Kaiser abdicated on November 9th, slipping across the border into the Netherlands, into exile. A German Republic was declared and they began to try to reach a peace with the Allies. At long last, early in the morning of November 11th, an armistice was signed in a railroad car that was parked near the front lines near a French forest. The terms of this agreement called for the fighting to stop along the entire Western Front, and it was to begin at exactly 11:00 a.m. that morning. Four years of bloody conflict, and the Great War was at an end. The world celebrated . . . but that’s not all of the story. “…at the front, there was no celebration.” There was an intelligence officer in the American 1st Division, Colonel Thomas Gowenlock, who was on the front on that November morning, and he wrote about his experience a few years later. On that morning of November 11th, Colonel Gowenlock was sitting in his dugout in Le Gros Faux, which was their division headquarters, speaking with a couple of other officers, when someone brought in the message that 1) Hostilities would stop at 11:00 on November 11th, and 2) The Allied troops were not to go beyond the line reached at that hour, on that date, until further orders. He and the other officers looked at each other, letting it sink in that it was over. He looked at his watch, it was 9:00 a.m. There were two hours to go, so he drover over tot he bank of the Meuse River to see the finish. There was heavy shelling, that was growing steadily worse. It seemed to him that every battery in the world was trying to burn up their guns. At last 11:00 came, but the firing did not stop. The men on both sides had decided to give all they had – their farewell to arms. It was a very natural impulse after the years of war, but also unfortunate and sad that many fell that day, after 11:00 a.m. All over the world, people were celebrating, dancing in the streets, drinking champagne and hailing the armistice that marked the end of the war. Sadly though, many soldiers felt this would be temporary, and that they would soon be called upon to resume the war. The night arrived, it was so quiet, it felt unearthly to them, and it began to eat away at their souls. They sat around log fires, the first they had been able to have at the front, trying to convince themselves that the enemy was not watching them from the darkness beyond the light of the fire. They spoke to each other in quiet, nervous tones, sure that the German bombing planes would come and blast them. These soldiers had had long months of intense strain, always on high alert to the threat of daily mortal danger, always thinking in terms of war and the enemy. The sudden release was physical and psychological agony. Some suffered from a total nervous collapse, some began to be hopeful that they could go home soon, to the ones they loved. Some could only think of the little crosses that marked the graves of their fallen comrades, while some just fell into an exhausted sleep. All of them were confused by how their existence as soldiers felt suddenly meaningless. They did not know what would come next, and many hardly cared. They were numbed by the shock of peace, and what they had been through consumed their every thought – both waking and sleeping. They couldn’t reconcile with the present, and couldn’t conceive of a future. Today we understand what those soldiers were going through to be PTSD, but the world wasn’t aware of this yet, so these poor soldiers who had given so much went home, adrift and left to pick up the pieces of their lives. God bless every single one of those soldiers, past and present, and may their sacrifices never be forgotten or minimalized by time.
This Day In History –
1620 – Forty one Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower sign a compact calling for a “body Politick” just off the Massachusetts coast.
Food Celebration of the Day –
National Split Pea Soup – You know a recipe is good when it’s centuries old: Traditional split pea soup (made from dry peas) supposedly originated as a peasant soup in ancient Greece. To me there is something comforting about a thick, rich Split Pea soup – hmmm . . . should I revise our dinner plans? Maybe so! This is sounding awfully delicious on a cold , autumn day.
- Green Split Pea & Bacon Soup
- Sweet Potato Split Pea Soup
- Smoked Ham & Split Pea Soup
- Vegetarian Split Pea Soup
- Paul McCartney’s Split Pea Soup
- Split Pea & Carrot Soup
- Split Pea Soup With Caramelized Onion & Cumin
Say thank you to a soldier today. Let them know that you appreciate them for all that they are, and all they have done. Whether you have today off, or are at work today, please take some time to pray for their safety. God Bless You and I’ll see you tomorrow!