Seven years after the end of World War I, Congress urged the recognition of Nov. 11 — then Armistice Day — with these words:
“It is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace...”
Yesterday, appropriately, the prayers, led by the commander in chief, were directed at Fort Hood, Texas, where 13 people were killed and 29 others wounded last week in a shooting rampage.
The nation’s thoughts and good wishes will remain with the Fort Hood community for some time, added to the daily prayers to keep safe all those who serve in harm’s way. But also, on this Veterans Day, the nation takes up its solemn responsibility to say thanks and try to bring some peace. Here’s a short list of examples:
Today at noon, the newly restored Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial will be unveiled. It’s the culmination of a two-year effort to preserve the memorial and undo years of damage from general use and vandalism. More improvements are coming.
By the time the Philly ceremony begins, Media Borough’s 50th Veterans Day parade will already have begun rolling down State Street. Local school bands, ROTC units, and veterans and civic groups will once again participate in one of the area’s biggest thank-yous, led by American Legion Post 93, Pennsylvania’s Veterans Museum, and Media Mayor Bob McMahon, who served in Vietnam.
Dozens of other communities will mark the day with wreath-laying ceremonies, banquets, and memorial services.
As to bringing some sense of peace, those efforts, large and small, go on daily.
Operation Home and Healing (www.operationhomeandhealing. org) offers counseling to service members, vets, and their families at 14 locations in South Jersey and Pennsylvania. The effort, funded by the local McCausland Foundation, provides an outlet for those who don’t want to seek counseling through military channels.
Last night in Cherry Hill, a dinner/dance raised funds for the Wounded Warriors Rehab Center at Fort Dix, Camden County Veterans Services, the Gold Star Mothers, and other groups.
In Washington over the weekend, the Henry M. Jackson and Tug McGraw Foundations sponsored a military medicine symposium that brought together experts from government, military, and civilian medicine. Their mission: to share best practices in helping vets with traumatic brain injuries, posttraumatic stress disorder, and other war-related wounds.
Fortunately, there is no end to the generosity and goodwill of individuals and organizations willing to help. Unfortunately, with two wars that have no end in sight, those efforts and more will be needed for years to come.
On Veterans Day, and every other day of the year.