Veterans Day ’11

Last time I posted something about Veterans Day was in 2009 and I was behind on posting an entry about a different topic. More of the same this year.

I’ve had the privilege to take part in two Veterans Day ceremonies this year. Today I got to speak to a group of folks in town about my experiences since I joined the Army. On Wednesday, I got to hear a retired major general give a speech at a local base. Our speeches could not have been more different.

Like I said two years ago, saying “Happy Veterans Day” doesn’t cut it. What’s happy about it? It’s a day of remembrance and thanks, not celebration. It also isn’t a day to talk about the U.S. being the best country in the world, or to defend our involvement in wars, or to talk about politics, like my esteemed fellow veteran did in his speech earlier this week.

It’s called Veterans Day, folks. Veterans Day. Not OIF/OEF Day, not America day – Veterans Day. Today we honor the people who signed up – for whatever reason – to serve in uniform. Remember to do that today. Forget the primaries, forget the exit strategies, forget the companies that will try to use patriotism as a marketing tool all day; just remember to thank a veteran and shake his or her hand.

One day, Nov. 11 will return to its original meaning: a day to celebrate peace. Until then, remember that the reason you sleep well at night is because an elite group of men and women is willing to forgo the ease of civilian life to fight on your behalf. You may not agree with the justifications behind the fight, but sometimes neither do we. That’s part of the sacrifice and that’s part of what makes it such a special group.

Also, go Tar Heels!