2013-11-22 / Letters

Lesson of Veterans Day lost on many

To the editor:

My daughter wanted to come home from the University of Maine last weekend so as I was purchasing her bus ticket, I asked what time on Monday she wanted to go back up to Orono. She said, “I have to go back on Sunday; I have class Monday.”

I reminded her it was Veterans Day and that she would not have class on that day. She insisted she had class and had to return on Sunday.

She is 20 and there are still some things I would like to think I am right about, so I called the switchboard at the university to ask if the kids had class on Monday, Nov. 11. The operator informed me that, indeed, class would be in session on Monday. I reminded her it was Veterans Day, a federal holiday. She replied that the schedule traded Veterans Day in order to have the day before Thanksgiving off.

Traded? Why trade Veterans Day? Why not Labor Day, or Martin Luther King Day? Why is one federal holiday more expendable than another?

When our kids were younger, each Veterans Day we would take them to a place that would help teach them about veterans: their honor, their courage, their bearing up under unfathomable hardship, and for some, their ultimate sacrifice. We visited the USS Albacore in Portsmouth a couple times, Fort McClary in Kittery once, the Wright Museum in Wolfeboro, N.H. several times and Fort Constitution in New Castle, N.H.

We told them about their great grandfather in the trenches of France, their distance cousin who died in France in the flu epidemic, their great-great uncle and a cousin who were career men in the navy, and their grandfathers who fought in the European and Pacific Theaters in World War II.

I have my father’s army-issue wool blanket; we asked them to imagine Grampa sleeping in the Ardennes in December of 1944 with just that blanket. We asked them to imagine that same grandfather being given an egg to eat on Christmas Eve by a grateful Belgian family. We asked them to imagine dysentery, homesickness, wounds, gunfire, cannons and anti-aircraft artillery fire, and to imagine that America might be a very different place if these Americans had not done the things they did over the past century.

Sadly, this lesson has been lost on too many in our population. Veterans Day (which began as Armistice Day, but that is a discussion for another time) has devolved into a day on which to buy a mattress on sale or get a swell deal on a car. It has become so minimized that it can be traded for the day before Thanksgiving, so our darlings, who have what they have because of the actions of veterans, can get home a day earlier from college for the holiday.

I bet their Thanksgiving dinner will include more than a single egg.

Ann K. Doe Kennebunkport

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