Today is Veterans Day, a day on which we should all pause to consider the sacrifices made by those in our armed services. Last year I posted an article detailing the history of Veterans Day and I encourage you to take a look at that article to find that information.
This year, I thought it appropriate to take a somewhat different approach in writing about this holiday. As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan rage on, we civilians rest peacefully each night knowing that we are safer because our military is engaged in containing the area of the world where Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations can plan their attacks against people who believe in democracy, equality, and personal freedoms. Our founder, Jim Etter, served in the Marines for 27 years. Many of our faculty and staff served as well. In additionally, approximately 80 percent of our student population is active duty or veterans and we are proud to serve so many of our nation’s heroes.
I recently read an article written by one of APUS’ alums, Brian Hawthorne, who is a veteran and currently a senior at George Washington University. The article details changes in the public’s attitude toward veterans as they returned home from various wars. Brian points out that after World War II, troops returned home to “yellow ribbons, a GI Bill of Rights and the open arms of their communities.” Perhaps due to the divisive nature of the Vietnam War, however, troops returned home from that war to a dramatically different reception. There were few to no yellow ribbons or parades and some returning troops met outright hostility.
Indeed, the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have created tension among the American public. In a room full of twenty people, one will likely encounter ten who support these efforts and ten who do not; without question, there will likely be twenty different opinions on the best way to move forward in those nations. Regardless of one’s political opinion regarding the current efforts in either nation, I hope that no one loses sight of the fact that those in our nation’s military and those who have served previously deserve our utmost respect and gratitude.
On this Veterans Day, I strongly encourage each of you to embrace our nation’s servicemembers and thank the veterans and those currently serving for their service to this great nation. They fight to preserve our safety and our freedoms. A thank you to these heroes is the least we can do.