Philip M. Horender,
Canajoharie High School
By NICK SITTERLY
Special to the Recorder
The 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month. Armistice Day. The day the world's first real "world war" ended.
In America, it is the federal holiday known as Veterans Day. This day was first celebrated in 1919, when President Woodrow Wilson declared Nov. 11 The Armistice Day, and in 1954 a federal law renamed it Veterans Day.
We celebrate this day for many reasons. Some celebrate it to remember their lost loved ones; some to think about the loved ones they have that are currently fighting; some celebrate it to thank the people who have provided them with their rights; and some don't really know why they celebrate it.
They just see it as a day off. You can't blame these people; they haven't really known what it's like to have a loved one serving, or to have lost a loved one. You could call these people lucky. Lucky to never have to experience the pain and worrying that comes with that type of sacrifice.
But, these people -- and every single person who calls himself or herself a United States citizen -- should understand the reason we have it, and why it is so important to the history of our country.
Veterans Day of course is to celebrate those who have served, but it also is a day of thanks. A day of thanks to the fact that we are the greatest country in the world. A country that thanks to the veterans, remains the greatest country in the world. Without them we would not be free; perhaps we wouldn't even be a country.
And specifically to my own generation -- high schoolers -- most of whom have no clue what it's like to have a loved one serve, it should be a day to thank soldiers for everything they have. All of their freedoms, their education, and their lives as they know it.
Without the sacrifice of those brave men and women, they wouldn't be given the opportunities they have. The opportunity to pursue their dreams and passions, things that many of the veterans had to give up so the future generation would be able to have them. These are things that all Americans should be thankful for.
And while grilling, having parties and parades, and throughout all celebrations on Veterans Day, people should remember why they're doing it; and what it means to be an American. The veterans have made this a country to be proud of, and Americans should value what they've been given.
On the first proclamation of the holiday, President Wilson stated, "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."
Now, think about the most important thing in your life. Without the veterans, and the soldiers who fight for us risking their lives every day, that probably wouldn't be there. On your day off, this is what you should be thinking about above all, and thanking every veteran and active soldier you see for this precious part of your life.
And for so much more.