Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Honor to the Soldier

Written by: Kelly Norton, volunteer

If you were to ask someone to name a holiday in November that is a day of giving thanks, they would most likely say Thanksgiving. However, there is another holiday that also fits this description – Veteran’s Day. 

Veteran’s Day is observed in the United States on November 11th. The significance of this date is on this day in 1918 fighting officially stopped during World War I. The holiday was first known as Armistice Day, but after World War II and the Korean War, Congress officially changed the holiday to Veteran’s Day to honor all those who have served in the US Armed Forces. As of 2014, there were 21.8 million US veterans.

The American Red Cross has offered services to veterans since World War I, and these services are still an important part of the organization’s mission. These services include assisting with benefits claims and connecting veterans with community resources such as counseling services. Red Cross volunteers also assist in VA and military hospitals around the nation.

The DC area is home to many veterans as well as many places that honor veterans including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the World War II Memorial, and Arlington Cemetery.

Recently, I had the chance to visit a lesser known place where one can honor veterans – the United States Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery. The Cemetery is located near the Petworth neighborhood of Washington, DC. It is one of the country’s oldest national cemeteries and is the location of the graves of more than 14,000 veterans, including many who fought in the US Civil War. It is also the final resting place for 21 Medal of Honor recipients.

Close to the Cemetery are the grounds of the Armed Force Retirement Home, an independent government agency that provides residence and related services for hundreds of veterans. Also here is President’s Lincoln’s Cottage where Abraham Lincoln and his family resided for a quarter of his presidency. The Cemetery had a significant effect on President Lincoln when he lived at the Cottage as he witnessed firsthand numerous burials taking place.

The sacrifices that our country’s veterans have made are countless. We should thank our veterans every day for their service, but on Veteran’s Day especially it is important to remember and honor them all. In the words of President Lincoln: “Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country's cause.” 

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