2013-11-07 / Opinion

Thank You, Veterans

I n the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, the last bullet of what we know today as World War I was fired somewhere along the Western Front.

Seven months later at the Palace of Versailles, the Great War officially came to an end.

It was to be the war to end all wars, its brutality and scope hard to imagine even for a world that 16 years later would be confronted with the legacy of World War II. In its wake, WWI would leave entire nations without generations of men, and those who survived were scarred by untold horrors that even today shape the rules of war.

What was celebrated as Armistice Day for the first time in 1919 is now recognized as Veterans Day.

President Woodrow Wilson summarized the day’s meaning in November 1919, when he said, "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations."

Those words, which Wilson no doubt uttered in the sincerest hope that the world would somehow learn from its experience and forgo future conflicts for the sake of diplomacy, still ring true.

It is indeed a tragedy that war remains a constant presence in the lives of both soldiers and civilians, and that conflict continues to make headlines across the globe.

On Monday, islanders should take pause and remember that our freedoms are not possible without the sacrifices of those who serve. Veterans, and their families, are indeed a special breed, and Newport is richer for having a strong presence of retired and active duty military members in our community.

Remember, Veterans Day is not only meant to mark those who lost lives while in service to the country, but also to recognize the contributions of all those who have worn a uniform.

This year, let’s all be sure to personally thank a veteran – chances are you have one in your life. And if you don’t, you can always write or pay a visit to Rhode Island’s Veteran’s Home just up the bay in Bristol, where a little thanks can go a long way.

"In war, there are no unwounded soldiers." -Jose Narosky

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