There are certain instances when saying thank you just doesn’t seem like enough. November 11th is a day that has been set aside to show thanks to those who have served in the military.
Veterans Day started as a day dedicated to world peace and was originally known as Armistice Day. At the end of World War I, an armistice, or a temporary cessation of hostilities, had been reached between the Allied nations and Germany. This agreement was reached on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, and in November of 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first Armistice Day. On May 13, 1938 an act was passed that made November 11 a legal holiday.
Primarily a day dedicated to world peace, Veterans Day was first a day set aside to honor the veterans of World War I. However, after the end of World II several service organizations asked that all veterans be recognized on November 11. This movement marked the end of Armistice Day, and on October 8, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first Veterans Day Proclamation. Since the time of President Eisenhower’s proclamation, the men and women of the United States military have, unfortunately, been part of numerous conflicts and have lost countless lives. Some of these men and women come home
to boisterous homecomings and parades in their honor.
Flags are flown and wave in the breeze as citizens anxiously wait to greet the true American heroes. This is the homecoming that many of our servicemen and women have come to know and appreciate, but this wasn’t always the case.
John Demers, an Apex resident and business owner, served in the military in the late 1970s. As a member of the Air Force and trained in the Navy, John recalls a time when military personnel were encouraged to hide the fact that they served in the armed forces. “When I left the military in 1980, I was taught how to answer
questions honestly in an interview, but not necessarily mention that I served.” Although the welcome home that he received after returning to United States soil wasn’t as blatantly hostile as many that came before him, John notes that the gratitude he receives today is greater than at any other time in his career. “I still get people today thanking me for my service…when I got home, people weren’t thanking me,” he said.
As a long-time volunteer at the VA hospital in Durham, John has the opportunity to personally thank the men and women that paved the way for him and for so many others. “I go over there so that I can get something from them, and they can get something from me. I find that I get just as much as I give and I think that is the good part,” John said. John has formed lasting friendships with many of the people he meets as a volunteer and says, in his experience, he has found that “most of them just need friends.”
Often times the men and women of the armed forces are like an old family member that you haven’t spoken to for some time. You know they are there, but you haven’t had a chance or a reason to communicate with them. That doesn’t mean you don’t love and care about them, but until something happens that brings them to the forefront of your consciousness, it is a case of “out of sight, out of mind.” In the back of our minds we know these men and women are laying down their lives for us every single day. We know that without them our world would be vastly different, and yet, until something tragic or newsworthy happens we don’t take the time to truly appreciate and thank them.
On November 11, 2017 every resident of Apex and across the United States has the opportunity to tell those that have served that we do recognize the sacrifices they have made for us. We do appreciate the fact that as we sleep, they stand guard to protect us. Sometimes saying “thank you” just doesn’t seem like enough, but sometimes it is exactly what someone needs to hear.