Culture Military

The Changing Meaning of Veterans Day

Veterans Day. Time to head out for free pancakes and a haircut. To go through the list to find which restaurant has the best lunch offer.

It wasn’t always like this. When I was a kid, Veterans Day was a footnote on the calendar. We learned that it had begun as Armistice Day, the end of the War to End All Wars. But after The Second World War, the name was changed to honor all American veterans.

But unless you worked for a bank or the Post Office or most government jobs, Veterans Day had little real meaning. Possibly because most men were veterans. In 1970 the percentage of the population that were veterans was 48%. This was during the Vietnam War, the draft, and when the World War Two generation was entering middle age. Imagine if half the population was lining up on November 11th for a free Grand Slam.

9/11 changed the perception of the military, and with it how Veterans Day is marked. Today only 7% of Americans are veterans and less than ½ of a percent of the population serve in the military.  With the patriotic fervor after the 9/11 attacks, and the memory of how poorly the men and women returning home from Vietnam were treated, appreciation for the military rose to new heights.

Nowadays stores and restaurants offer free services and meals on Veterans Day. Veterans of all ages are thanked for their service. I have to admit I feel slightly guilty about the free stuff. I served in the relatively peaceful eighties, without a thought that thirty years later I would get a free breakfast or hamburger. Being rewarded for doing something I would’ve done anyway, serving in the military, makes me uncomfortable. And old, like one of the men I remember as a kid, sitting at the local VFW amid cigarette smoke, giving each other crap about which branch of the service they were in.

But for the last six years or so I have been spending Veterans Day with a close friend. He is a Marine Corp Vietnam combat vet. We eat breakfast, get a haircut, find lunch somewhere and usually end the day at the American Legion drinking cheap beer. He takes great joy in the day, in the recognition, as he should. He earned it, with his time in combat, and with the disdain his service was met with when he returned home as a nineteen-year-old combat veteran.

I am glad Veterans Day has evolved. The stores and restaurants are a reflection of a society that acknowledges the sacrifice of those who serve. I am glad for my friend, and for another veteran who joins us on occasion, my son, who served in the Army (full disclosure, he is one of the writers on this site). The generation serving during the Global War on Terror will leave the military into a society that appreciates them, even if the majority cannot relate to them.

vets day honoring all those who served

Featured image provided by the editor and Pixabay. Final image courtesy of the VA.

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Mic-Mac
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Mic-Mac

Much love, appreciation and respect to all Veterans. Thank you!

Mic-Mac
Member
Mic-Mac

Much love, appreciation, and respect to all veterans. Thank you!

Yankee Papa
Member
Yankee Papa

.
…I get a VA pension. I didn’t find out that I was eligible for it four years ago… until this past July. Payments only back dated to July. But I am fortunate… I get a small pension deposited in my bank account every month now.

…But other vets are on the street because they are entitled… the VA doesn’t dispute… but simply not competent to handle the load.
.
https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/a-train-wreck-veterans-havent-receive-gi-bill-benefits-for-months/ar-BBPzXiD?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=U345DHP

-Yankee Papa-

Mic-Mac
Member
Mic-Mac

Wow YP, I bet there are many Veterans who qualify and arn’t aware. Glad you are getting. They should go retroactive to when you became eligible. Hugs Yp and I hope you enjoyed Veterans Day. Much love, appreciation, and respect to you and all veterans.

Yankee Papa
Member
Yankee Papa

Mic-Mac, I have been lucky. Boise has a good VA facility. It shouldn’t require luck, or an outstanding facility though. In Ancient China if you were a soldier and lost…say… a leg in battle… the senior officer in your area would give you (in the name of the Emperor) a scroll… a license to beg. Better deal than it sounds. You’re in a city or large town and the town guards or garrison troops sent out to “thin out” the beggars…guaranteed that they will leave you alone. At least Chinese vets got what they were promised… -YP-

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