Over the centuries, the significance of the number 11 has never ceased to amaze mystics, numerologists, and conspiracy theorists alike. Tied, in fact to historical events, some even biblical in scale.
We won’t be talking about that.
However, what I would like to bring to your attention are the men and women who have protected and served this country. People who come from all walks of life. People who are most likely someone you know, or even someone close to you. They are most likely yours or somebody else’s grandparents, parents, children, siblings, friends, or neighbors. Ordinary people who had important roles in their communities before they chose a higher purpose. To bravely sacrifice their own liberty for yours, in the name of freedom and democracy.
Let’s talk about Veterans and why it is important for us to give them honor and commemorate their sacrifices once a year.
Veterans Day is observed every November 11th of each year across the United States, with parades and speeches, in honor of the Veteran. The word “Veteran” is popularly used in reference to a former member of the armed forces or an ex-serviceman and is defined by most lexicons as an old, experienced soldier. Today, a “veteran” is aptly described as the soldier who has endured the perils of the battle in pursuit of our nation’s integrity, honor, and tranquility.
But why November 11th?
During the first World War in 1918, the exchange of gunfire and the boom of artillery abruptly fell silent and fighting ceased when an “armistice” or temporary cessation of hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect. These events took place on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The day was then called “Armistice Day” and remembered as the day that concluded The Great War. For years it was the day that ended the war of all wars which was remembered.
Only the day, with the heroics of all veterans, sandwiched in between the lines of history.
What it means to be a Veteran.
Veterans Day is rooted in the many selfless acts made by every military member in service for their country; physically, mentally, and emotionally. The countless sacrifices many brave soldiers, men and women alike, have made in defense of our Nation’s freedom and sovereignty cannot be counted in a day.
This year, Veterans Day 2020 has a theme called “Vision: Veterans in Focus.” Simply put, it calls us to place value where it should be, front, center, and focused on the Veteran. Theirs is a life devoid of the simple, personal liberties you and everyone else can afford. Churchill was right when he stated, “Never was so much owed by so many to so few.”
To properly honor all our Veterans, here are eleven quick figures for us to ponder on:
- There were 16 million Americans who served during World War II.
- As of 2018, about 496,777 of those who served were still alive.
- 2 million veterans served during the Korean War.
- 7 million veterans served during the Vietnam War.
- 2018 statistics show that there were 18.2 million living veterans who served in at least one war. Of those figures:
- 62 million were female.
- 8 percent were black or African American.
- 9 percent were non-Hispanic white.
- 9 percent were Hispanic.
- 9 million were 65 and older.
- 6 million were younger than 35.
Boom! There it is, stark reality staring us right in the face. Figures do not lie; we are surrounded by veterans from all eras. Each with their own battles fought, and each battle fought in blood and service for this nation. Should these numbers fall short in justification of sparing a day for remembrance or commemoration of every veteran, I bet service records and sacrifices certainly will.
And I wager you wish I were kidding about the following facts:
- As of 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for Gulf War-era II veterans, or those who have served since September 2001, was 3.8 percent.
- The most common occupations for male veterans are management, transportation, and sales.
- The most common occupations for female veterans were office or administrative support, health care, and management.
- People who served in the military tend to have completed higher levels of education than those who have not enlisted.
- Despite the previous facts stated, The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans reports there are more than 40,000 veterans living without homes on any given night in the U.S.
- Statistics also show that younger veterans are more likely to be homeless.
- About one out of two (53 percent) post-9/11 veterans will face a period of unemployment, and also have a more challenging time receiving college degrees, according to the VA.
- In 2008, according to the RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research, close to one-fifth of veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan came home with either major depressive disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder.
- PTSD is a disorder that has become far too common among veterans and is contributing to shockingly high suicide rates.
- About 22 veterans commit suicide every day, largely due to this disorder and because they often have to jump through hoops to receive help.
- Of those who return from battle, there is likely to be 30 percent who return with disabilities as a result of their service, according to the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge.
Our uniformed men and women, all of whom have served in conflicts from WWII and Vietnam, to Iraq and Afghanistan have placed themselves on the frontlines for our freedom and our nation, despite facing the possibility of the ultimate sacrifice for themselves.
Let us not take for granted the freedom these individuals have sought for and the sacrifices made by veterans. Let us learn to appreciate what our military service members have achieved in their line of duty. All the past and current military members who have kept us safe and allow us to sleep peacefully in our beds at night, only because they stand ready to face violence on our behalf.
Admit it or not, it is easy to lose touch with this concept when many of us have grown up in a generation where war is only something that happens on the nightly news. Let us all take a moment to pause and remember those who have risked their lives in a moment of proper silence on November 11th, at 11:11am.
Incidentally, this article you just read has clocked in with 1100 words in total, and yes, Veterans Day has a total of 11 letters.
Eleven. Who would have thought?