EDITORIAL: Veterans Day

The 11th day of the 11th month … .

Posted: November 11, 2017 at 4:30 a.m.

What a wonderfully American story. A beautiful country yarn. A heart-warming bit of Americana. It may or may not be true, but that would only make it more American. Mark Twain would understand.

The president of the United States at the time, a progressive from New Joisey named Wilson, is said to have invited some veterans of the First World War to the White House for a meal. In years to come, the PR types would call it a photo op. A former university president, Woodrow Wilson knew from politics.

Back in 1919, those veterans wouldn't have called their fight the First World War. Everybody thought of it as simply The Great War. In those days, folks had no way of knowing a greater one would follow. Maybe it was a mercy. The thought would have been hard to bear after all the world had suffered.

At the time, entrepreneurs across the country were learning new ways to can food for long-term storage. Moms were learning how to open those cans and heat the food inside just before Dad got home from the factory. And in 1919, there was a tasty dish going around that was all the rage. In one bite, you could get meat, dairy, grain and maybe a veggie or two.

So when the doughboys got to the White House to celebrate America's victory in The War to End All Wars, the president wanted the main course on the menu to be . . . .

Ravioli.

Molto bene! How American. For it was as American a choice as chop suey or ragout. Or tacos. With some imported beer to wash it all down. Talk about an all-American meal.

President Wilson and the doughboys at the dinner called it a celebration of "Armistice Day." For that was the day--the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month--that the great powers of the time decided to stop the slaughter. For a few years, at least.

Today we call it Veterans Day.

It's not just a day off. Or it shouldn't be. That is, if you get it off. Most folks usually don't. It just so happens that this year it falls on a Saturday.

Indeed, some of us won't even know today is Veterans Day until we drop by the bank and find the doors locked. Or notice that the mail didn't come.

These eventful--too eventful--days, the rest of us should take a minute, or more, to recognize those who've stood on the wall for this country.

In your house, there might be a woman who once scraped sand off her franks-and-beans in Iraq. Or across the street, there may be a man who learned what real cold was when he fought Chinese "volunteers" in Korea. In your carpool, there may be a man who found out about his child's birth when he opened a letter in a foxhole in Vietnam.

Or maybe you know a man in your fantasy league who wore the uniform but never did see combat. He's a vet, too. Those of us who have been in the service but were lucky enough never to hear a shot fired in anger consider ourselves lucky indeed. We doubt anybody who has seen the fight up-close would wish anything else on us.

Come May of next year, we'll commemorate Memorial Day again. That's when we recognize those who've died defending this country. Today is an opportunity to say thank you in person to those who've served. Don't miss it.

We should do it every Nov. 11.

And not just on Nov. 11.

Editorial on 11/11/2017