What is now called "Veteran's Day" here in the United States was formerly known as "Armistice Day", marking the end of World War I. As it is remembered, "On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the guns fell silent".
That blessed silence was and is music to a soldier's ears. Only madmen and morons desire war. But to refuse to fight in the face of a determined enemy who is firmly purposed to put one's nation and kindred under his heel is suicidal. The soldier serves in battle, he closes with and destroys the enemy until the enemy either surrenders or is no more. The American warrior in particular does his task with zeal and gusto; but even so the sweetest sound is that of a pen signing a document ending all of the fighting.
When I served during the "Vietnam era", returning servicemen - combatant or not - were reviled by the "anti-war" crowd. Sometimes they were even spit upon by filthy slackers shouting for "peace". They were called "warmongers" among other things.
The profession of the American warrior is not war. Peace was and is his objective, and what he seeks to establish and protect. The difference between the outlook of the American warrior and the "peaceniks" is that the American warrior - and his nation - will not settle for the "peace" of surrender. If not for this attitude taken by America and the free peoples of the world, the globe would be ruled by the likes of Adolf Hitler or the murderous Iraqi Hussein family. In that "peaceful" world, there would be no armed conflict. Yet the killing and suffering and dying would continue unabated in death camps and torture facilities.
The peace that the American military member serves to establish and protect is the true peace that allows freedom to blossom and thrive. All of us - inactive, reserves, National Guard and regular active duty troops - all of we veterans served to promote and defend that peace. The purpose of the American military is to display readiness to oppose those who would disturb this peace, and to engage and destroy them if they try to shatter it. The fight has often been necessary and the American service member has executed the role of defender better than any other soldier on the planet. Yet the American warrior fights for one thing: The day a treaty is signed ending the fighting, with freedom triumphant. And then the American warrior stands ready to display to the enemies of peace the terrible consequenses of breaching the peace.
It is therefore apt that "Veteran's Day" takes place on the anniversary of the signing of an agreement to cease hostilities. For we older veterans, peace was our profession. And for the young active duty troops risking their lives and ready to offer up if need be the Ultimate Sacrifice still PEACE is what they long for and hope to achieve.
As of the moment a young man or young lady is sworn into the Armed Forces, he or she is a veteran. All we veterans swore the same Oath. And for those of us who are no longer active, peace was our profession. And now for you new active duty troopers, the profession of Peace is yours. Thank you for your service to our country.