Page 4A • Friday, November 11, 2011
The Daily Citizen
Today is a day of thanks here are a lot of things I could tell you about my grandfather, like that he always puts a rubber band around his glass when he puts in the refrigerator so he will know that glass is his. I could also tell you about how he gave my cousin a 5-minute lesson over the summer on how to drive his antique tractor, which resulted in my cousin nearly tearing down the old chicken barn. My grandfather just laughed. But one thing I will always remember about my grandfather is that he has a lot of stuff. He has multiples of a lot of stuff. He has a basement full of stuff, to be exact. To clarify, the basement at my grandparents’ house contains enough old fertilizer, paint, and gardening chemicals that the explosive power of all of this would equate to a small nuclear explosion. Another collection — a term I use loosely — my grandfather keeps in his basement is that of his ball caps. He probably has roughly a dozen or so, all from various golf tournaments, athletic teams or other places that he and my grandfather traveled. This collection wouldn’t be worth noting if he rotated around what caps he wore or wore a few on certain occasions. But out of all of these caps that my grandfather has collected over the years, he only wears one. This navy blue cap is embroidered in gold and reads “LST 384” among some other text that describes a very important moment in my grandfather’s life. This hat describes the ship that my grandfather served on in the Navy during World War II. He wasn’t on the ship very long, but he still remembers his service like it was yesterday. But this hat doesn’t just represent the time he served — it represents all the men that he served with. And it represents the time that he and his brother were both away from their small hometown of Emporia, Kan., during which his brother was captured by the Germans and held in a prisoner of war camp. I’ve talked to my grandfather about his service before, and specifically I asked him why he went. He usually says something along the lines of, “It was what we had to do.” Like many service members before them, my grandfather and his brother served without asking questions. They served because it was what was asked of them. And to them, on this day especially, we owe them our thanks.
MOLLY M. FLEMING But today isn’t just about the “young” people like my grandfather who served in wars that seem many years ago. For most of my life, I thought that Veterans Day was just an “old people” holiday, but now, it’s about people my age as well. The soldiers my age and younger will spend the rest of their lives remembering their time in the wars we’ve been in since 2001. While we are lucky to have them back and they are lucky to be alive, they not only sacrificed their time to ensure the freedoms we have taken for granted, but they sacrificed a part of themselves. Those who serve in war and come home lose a part of who they are when they go to war. They see things that we as civilians would never hope to see in our lives. They are asked to do tasks that we as civilians would never hope to be asked to do. Yet, they don’t hesitate. They understand that someone has to defend the freedoms this country has, and they are willing to do it. It is because of them that this country has made it this far. It is because of them we are able to go to church when and where we want to go. And ironically, it is because of them that the military funeral protesters are allowed to wave their ugly signs as a fallen member of the military lays in a casket during the funeral procession. Today isn’t about large stores having sales on their winter clothes. Today is a day of thanks. It’s a day to tell a person in uniform that you appreciate them giving up their time and seeing humanity in one of its darkest forms so that you can sleep comfortably at night. So on this day, take some extra time to appreciate the freedoms you have in this country. While we complain about political parties’ tax plans, and disagree on how to best fix the healthcare system, we should be thankful that we have the right to make these complaints. And for these rights, we should thank our veterans who have defended our way of life for more than 220 years. Molly M. Fleming is a staff writer for The Daily Citizen. She can be reached at mfleming@ thedailycitizen.com, or (501) 268-8621.
To our freedom fighters Some 20 years ago, I told our college sophomore son, “America is a privileged nation.” He countered, “I disagree.” And I rejoined, “Son, that’s the privilege!” Since then, and in our own lifetime, our country has seen some dark days and yet some very bright hours. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves. It turns out that we don’t just live in America, but rather that America also lives in us: “ ... crowned with good thru brotherhood ... ” And yet, we Christians are strangers and sojourners on this earth. Aren’t we but passing through? Not one of us is staying. We look to the city whose builder is God. Our citizenship is in Heaven. We also have earthly responsibilities — duties to each other, to Caesar, as well as to God. Governments were ordained by God. Religion provides moral values that can make a country great. Government can provide the climate and protections that make greatness possible and sustainable. The scriptures (e.g., Romans 13) certainly hint that, in clashes between good and evil on this earth, duly constituted governments are the vehicle through which to right the wrong done to the innocent public. And so it was, for example, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an Armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the First World War, then known as “the Great War” (for people couldn’t imagine a worse war). Today, and on each Nov. 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls, an official wreath-laying ceremony is held at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National
DR. DON DIFFINE Cemetery, Va., while other celebrations are held in the states. Although Thanksgiving is a day when we pause to give thanks for the things we have, Veteran’s Day is a day when we pause to give thanks for the people who fought for the things we have. So, let’s forget not the real reasons for America’s Veteran’s Day. Former President Ronald Reagan’s presentation at a Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on Nov. 11, 1985, says it all: It is, in a way, an odd thing to honor those who died in defense of our country in wars far away. The imagination plays a trick. We see these soldiers in our mind as old and wise. We see them as something like the Founding Fathers — grave and gray-haired. But most of them were boys when they died. They gave up two lives — the one they were living and the one they would have lived. When they died, they gave up their chance to be husbands and fathers and grandfathers. They gave up their chance to be revered old men. They gave up everything for their country, for us. All we can do is remember. Our Veterans Day helps focus attention on the important purpose: A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good and mutual goodwill and understanding between nations. And just who are the brave men and
women who serve and protect America? Some volunteered; others were drafted. They all learned how to go, and to fight, and to win. Presently, there are 23 million living military veterans in the U.S. Our nation’s service men and women come from all walks of life. They are parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, spouses, nephews, nieces and children. They are friends, neighbors and coworkers, and an extraordinary part of their communities. Twenty percent of our College of Business Administration faculty, for example, are veterans. They have ordinary names like Bob, Mark, Don, George and Steve. Are American citizens becoming timid and apologetic about the “Stars and Stripes?” Hear the words of Mr. Alan Grant, former President of the American Farm Bureau Federation and guest speaker at Harding’s American Studies Institute some years back: “When I was a little boy, very small, my father and I were watching a parade. My father was an immigrant to this country, and there was some marching and flags going by and I looked over at my dad and I said, ‘Daddy, why are you crying?’ And he said to me, ‘You’re too young to fully understand.’ But he also said, ‘Remember that you asked the question, and think about it in later years when you’re older and can think about it — remember that when you are asked the question, ‘Daddy, why are you crying?’ — your flag was going by.’” Although we Americans often have our differences (especially during election seasons), we still join together in times of crises. Judge Felix Frankfurt-
er provided the clarity we need: “Democracy is always a beckoning goal, not a safe harbor. For freedom is an unremitting endeavor, never a final achievement. That is why no office in the land is more important than that of being a citizen.” For all who served, or who now serve, we can’t thank you enough. And veterans, whenever your candle flickers a little (and you long for more R&R in life), dig down in that file of discharge papers, past the DD 214 Discharge Orders (past the faded photos of a slimmer, more fit you), and you will surely find this: “Certificate of Appreciation for Service in the Armed Forces of the United States I extend to you my personal thanks and the sincere appreciation of a grateful nation for your contribution of honorable service to our country. You have helped maintain the security of the nation during a critical time in its history with a devotion to duty and a spirit of sacrifice in keeping with the proud tradition of the military service. I trust that in the coming years you will maintain an active interest in the Armed Forces and the purpose for which you served. My best wishes to you for happiness and success in the future. Signed-Commander in Chief” Is this a great country or what? Would you remember to take time out of this busy Nov. 11 to thank a Veteran? If so, then “Three Cheers for You ... and the Red, White, and Blue!” Dr. Don Diffine is a Professor of Economics and the Director of the Belden Center for Private Enterprise Education at Harding University.
Today in History
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Today is Friday, Nov. 11, the 315th day of 2011. There are 50 days left in the year. This is Veterans Day in the U.S., Remembrance Day in Canada. ■
On Nov. 11, 1918, fighting in World War I came to an end with the signing of an armistice between the Allies and Germany.
On this date:
In 1620, 41 Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower, anchored off Massachusetts, signed a compact calling for a “body politick.” In 1831, former slave Nat Turner, who’d led a violent insurrection, was executed in Jerusalem, Va. In 1889, Washington became the 42nd state. In 1909, President William Howard Taft accepted the recommendation
of a joint Army-Navy board that Pearl Harbor in the Hawaiian Islands be made the principal U.S. naval station in the Pacific. In 1921, the remains of an unidentified American service member were interred in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in a ceremony presided over by President Warren G. Harding. In 1942, during World
War II, Germany completed its occupation of France. In 1960, South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem survived a coup attempt by army rebels. (However, he was overthrown and killed in 1963.) In 1966, Gemini 12 blasted off from Cape Kennedy with astronauts James A. Lovell and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Jr. aboard.
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