It’s June 28, 1919. Our commander of the U.S. Allied Forces is inside a lovely palace called Versailles in France. A 440-article, 15-part treaty named after that palace was signed that day to end “The Great War,” more commonly known as World War I.
(Never mind those hundreds of articles jacked-up trade for Germany so badly, it kinda led to the rise of Nazis and another world war, but that’s another story.)
Although the Treaty of Versailles “officially” ended World War I, seven months earlier — the 11th month, the 11th day on the 11th hour (no kidding) — an armistice was reached. The temporary halt of hostility was considered “Armistice Day.”
The following November, President Woodrow Wilson made a national address with these 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…”
And that, dear Americans, is how this day came to be. That was then, and this is now. Are you reflecting? Filled with solemn pride? Or just pissed the banks are closed?
Today, if you look on the Web, you will discover plenty of lists for things to do to commemorate Veterans Day, as it is more commonly called. Suggestions such as, visit a Presidential library or a military base, hug a veteran, go to a parade or even watch “Born on the 4th of July,” “Platoon,” or even “Rambo.”
However, as the proud son of a two-time Vietnam veteran (who was awarded two Purple Hearts and a Silver Star for his valor), may I suggest another idea: go outside.
That’s it. Get off your blessed assurance, go outside, look at the sky and take a deep breath. Why? Because regardless what you do for a living, where you live or how much you get paid, you have the God-given ability to escape the bondages of your 9-to-5 because some man or woman much braver than you or me is fighting ’round the clock.
Breathe deep. That’s free air you’re sucking down. Look around. That’s free enterprise you can see. Watch an American flag ripple in the wind. That’s a free reminder of what this day means and why your clients should be honoring those who served in some fashion today.
Businesses, agencies and flacks of all ages call that “corporate social responsibility.” Today, let’s call it the “right thing to do.” God bless those men and women, and the United States of America.