Holiday honors U.S. veterans

Monday we Americans celebrate Veterans Day.

The first “Veterans Day Proclamation” was issued on June 1, 1954, by a man who knew the horrors of war, the demands of a peacetime military and had carried the responsibility of sending young Americans to their deaths.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme allied commander during World War II, urged Americans to “solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.”

Those words came after two world wars and the conflict in Korea. Vietnam, numerous military engagements, the Gulf War and the ongoing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria would come later.

Maui’s sons and daughters took part in all the conflicts and the nearly as dangerous peacetime duties. Even during Vietnam, military recruiters routinely exceeded their quotas for volunteers on Maui. It’s much the same today.

Veterans Day has its roots in World War I. A resolution passed by Congress on June 4, 1926, was a plea for peace after “the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals.” Little did they know what the future would bring. From 1926 to 1954, Nov. 11 was known as Armistice Day, the date the guns fell silent in 1918.

The price Maui has paid to keep our country free is tallied on black tablets arrayed outside the War Memorial Gymnasium. Each engraved name represents not only the fallen but a family and friends and a community, and sacrifices that can never be compensated.

Veterans Day is dedicated not only to those who died but those who came home scarred physically, mentally and emotionally. In a world where freedom is always under assault, the military is an honorable necessity, especially when the enemy doesn’t wear uniforms and is capable of attacking anywhere on the globe.

It is a day to honor all those who served in war and peacetime, an occasion of pride, loss and hope for a day when yesterday’s and today’s sacrifices are no longer necessary.

(A version of this editorial has appeared previously in The Maui News.)

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.


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