In 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11th as the the first commemoration of Armistice Day 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..." In 1938, November 11th became a legal holiday to celebrate the veterans of World War I and in 1954 the law was expanded to honor American veterans of all wars.
Today, many people know that American soldiers are fighting around the world but very few of us have a direct connection to any of the men or women who are fighting on our behalf. From time to time it is important that we reflect on the sacrifices that our military makes on a daily basis. And since we are not asked to share in these sacrifices, I think that it is is crucial that we be reminded of them.
Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks and Washington Post writer Rajiv Chandrasekaran have published "For Love of Country", a collection of heroic actions taken by American soldiers in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The authors also discuss the many contributions that veterans make to society upon their return to the United States.
All of the stories in "For Love of Country" are exceptional. But none more so than the heroic actions of Corporal Jonathan Yale and Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter described in Chapter Four. These two Marines met for the first time early on the morning of April 22, 2008.As he was at the end of his tour, Corporal Yale was scheduled to return to the United States in a few days while Lance Corporal Haerter had just arrived in Iraq. The two Marines were guarding Gate One when a truck loaded with 2,000 pounds of explosives drove quickly towards the compound's entry. The Marines stood their ground and fired away at the oncoming truck. For six seconds they did not move or run away as they clearly made the decision to stop the truck. That heroic choice by these two Marines cost them their lives but saved 33 of their fellow soldiers, including my son, Benjamin Tupaj.
On this Veteran's Day, please take the time to not only reflect upon the sacrifices given by our military but to personally thank them for their service. And please read "For Love of Country" as it is honors these heroes.