by Howard Berriman
My son's unit gathered in his unit area at 6:00 pm for their deployment to Iraq; departure time was thought to be 8:00 pm. As we drove into the unit parking lot, I was amazed at the gathering of families who were accompanying their soldier family member. Wives, girl friends, fiancés, and mothers and father, kids of every age, friends and soldiers from other units who will deploy later this week. All waited patiently for the announcement to the soldiers to get into formation. It was hot and humid; in fact, the temps had hit a record 86 degrees earlier in the day. Some folks sought relief inside the Orderly Room which had a large fan blowing semi-cool air.
Soldiers drew their weapons and made final adjustments to the 100+ pounds of equipment each man carries. Kids were running around as if it was a carnival; screeching and giggling and playing informal games of hide and seek among the piles of duffle bags.
Mike's unit has 76 officers and soldiers. It seemed as if every soldier had some family member or friend to see him off. Some family members drove in from great distances; a lieutenant's entire family including grand mother drove in from New Jersey; one soldier's parents drove in from Michigan; they headed back as soon of the unit left last night.
As 6:00 pm became 7:00 and then 7:00 pm became 8:00, the families got an introduction to the Army's way of "hurry up and wait"; still no announcement for movement of the soldiers. Younger kids were really getting cranky and a few older family members sat in their cars with the air conditioning running. Experienced folks knew that the delays would continue and made the best of it by small talk with other families. There was even a "false alert" where the soldiers got into formation, and everyone got real tense. But, then word came down to relax and soldiers quickly fell out of formation to return to the families.
Some of the family members were veterans of other wars; mostly Vietnam. And now they were sending their sons to war in Iraq. There seemed to be a experience knowledge among these guys of what their sons could expect in a few days once they get to Kuwait and then convoy into Iraq. We caught each other's eyes but said nothing; we just nodded knowingly about what might be ahead.
I watched my son as he talked with each soldier and joked a bit. Many soldiers took him to meet their parents and family members. From a distance, I watched the fathers of the soldiers question Mike about the unit and about his service. As Mike told them that he had been there twice before, I saw a visible relief in the posture and faces of the fathers and mothers; knowing that their son's commander was a combat veteran. This fact seemed to me to be particularly reassuring to the fathers who were Vietnam vets.
Finally, at 9:00 pm, the word came down for Mike's unit to get into formation. As soldiers and families hugged for one last time, the First Sergeant said ..."tell them See You Later and not Good Bye" because we're all coming back. That really hit home for many of us. The unit parking lot was lit but just barely so and the soldiers seemed indistinguishable from one another. Yet, family members continued to take pictures and videos of their soldiers.
The First Sergeant ordered the men to get their gear on and soldiers quickly picked up their heavy ruck sacks, their weapons and other equipment and stood at attention. Then came "Company, Attention." "Right Face." "Forward March." And the unit quickly marched into the darkness of the night singing a Jody cadence...and then they were gone.
The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. I'm certain all of us have heard those words before. They represent the time in 1918 when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect. President Woodrow Wilson commemorated the first Armistice Day, November 11, 1919, with the following words: "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 . . ."
Armistice Day was primarily a day of observance to honor veterans of World War I, however, after World War II and the Korean War, leaders of veterans organizations decided November 11th should be a time to honor all who had fought in various American wars, not just World War I. On November 11, 1953, in Emporia, Kansas, the citizens held a Veterans' Day observance instead of the traditional Armistice Day program. Mr. Ed Rees, of Emporia, was so impressed that he introduced a bill into the House to change the name to Veterans' Day. The name was changed to Veterans' Day by Act of Congress on May 24, 1954. Later that year, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the following proclamation:
Whereas it has long been our customs to commemorate November 11, the anniversary of the ending of World War I, by paying tribute to the heroes of that tragic struggle and by rededicating ourselves to the cause of peace; and
Whereas in the intervening years the United States has been involved in two other great military conflicts, which have added millions of veterans living and dead to the honor rolls of this Nation; and
Whereas the Congress passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926 (44 Stat. 1982), calling for the observance of November 11 with appropriate ceremonies, and later provided in an act approved May 13, 1938 (52 Stat. 351), that the eleventh of November should be a legal holiday and should be known as Armistice Day; and
Whereas, in order to expand the significance of that commemoration and in order that a grateful Nation might pay appropriate homage to the veterans of all its wars who have contributed so much to the preservation of this Nation, the congress, by an act approved June 1, 1954 (68 Stat. 168), changed the name of the holiday to Veterans Day:
Now, I, Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States of America, do hereby call upon all of our citizens to observe Thursday, November 11, 1954, as Veterans Day. On that day let us 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.
I also direct the appropriate officials of the Government to arrange for the display of the flag of the United States on all public buildings on Veterans Day.
In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose.
Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day national Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and cause the Seal of the United States of America to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington this eighth day of October in the Year of our Lord nineteen hundred and fifty-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and seventy-ninth.
DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER
Student Government Association Resolution Supports Veterans Day Event
GB Fall 2007-36
Commendation of Veterans Day 2007
Authored by Mark Steinmeier
Sponsored by Political Activities
WHEREAS the Student Government Association of Missouri State University is the official voice of the student body; and
UNDERSTANDING that, as students of a University dedicated to a mission in “public affairs” and as citizens of the United States of America, it is our duty to ensure that the service of our courageous military men and women is honored and their sacrifices are lifted up as an example of the kind of dedication and action required in order to protect and uphold our great nation’s democracy; and
NOTING that Missouri State University in conjunction with Missouri State University Veterans Club and Missouri State University Alliance for Veterans sponsored and organized “Veterans Day 2007” on the 12th of November, as a way to recognize and honor our brave veterans for their service to this country; and
FURTHER NOTING that Veterans Day 2007 was successful in remembering, honoring, and thanking the nearly 700 student veterans and several hundred faculty and staff veterans of Missouri State University through a Veterans Recognition Breakfast; the Raising of the Colors; a display of photos from area veterans; a video representing both Missouri State veterans and this generation’s service; a discussion panel featuring veterans from 1976-2007; guest speakers Governor Matt Blunt (LCDR, USNR) and Iraqi Freedom veterans Colonel Mark Costello and LCDR Jack Hines; and other various tributes and performances; and
UNDERSTANDING that without the cooperative efforts of Missouri State University in conjunction with the support and dedication of Missouri State University Veterans Club and Missouri State University Alliance for Veterans, this important dedication and recognition of Veteran’s Day would not have been such a success; therefore
BE IT RESOLVED that the Student Government Association of Missouri State University commends Missouri State University, Missouri State University Veterans Club, and Missouri State University Alliance for Veterans for recognizing the many veterans of this great University and of our country and for being an example of true patriotism and support for those who have sacrificed so much, and joins them in thanking our veterans for their loyalty and service to our country.