Remember all veterans always

By Kelly McCraddic

Let’s start off by wishing the United States Marine Corps a happy birthday.

The Corps turned 230 years old Thursday. Also, the same wishes go to the other branches of our military, the Navy, born Oct. 13, 1775; the Army, born Sept. 14, 1775; the Air Force, started Sept. 18, 1954; the National Guard, introduced Dec. 13, 1663; and the Coast Guard, started Aug. 14, 1790.

The Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War I, was signed in 1918 in the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month. The war was declared the “war to end all wars.”

Back then they still called it Armistice Day. One year later, President Woodrow Wilson made Nov. 11, 1919, the first commemorated anniversary of the armistice.

Wilson wanted the people of our nation to use this date as a day to remember those who had died while in combat.

So, when did it turn to Veterans Day and become a legal holiday? Well, on May 13, 1938, it became a legal holiday for the entire country.

In 1954, after World War II and the Korean War ended, Armistice Day changed to Veterans Day. Veterans Day would give us a national holiday that honored all veterans, not just those who were casualties of past wars and conflicts, but all those who have served and are serving.

I’d like to think most people genuinely use Veterans Day to remember and pay respect to these veterans, both the living and deceased.

Until you have gone through what the men and women in the military have gone through, you may never really understand why Veterans Day is so special to our veterans.

Some may think of vets as old-timers who served our country a long time ago.

However, I am about to turn 26 and I am an Illinois veteran and darn proud of it … so the stereotyping of vets can get squashed. We’re not all old.

I used to think like that before my tour in the Marine Corps. Being in the military, any branch, has so much more meaning than just serving your country, just as being a veteran is so much more than just having finished your tours and obligation to our country.

My views on the military and veterans have completely changed now that I have served and now am a vet.

I have more love in my heart for the Corps now than I did while I was active. Sometimes, we get so caught up in everyday military life, we take it for granted. I know I did. But by simply being a veteran I feel I can make up for it somehow.

Veterans have made their mark in this world. There are hundreds of different organizations and groups that have become very important in society.

Even universities have their own clubs, like NIU’s Veterans Club. These clubs have people that send out holiday cards, visit veterans’ clubs, donate money or hold fundraisers or people simply donate their time and/or clothes. They help out those veterans who are in need.

It’s not just adults and adult organizations that put forth the effort to help our American veterans. Some children’s groups are also lending a helping hand.

I’m not expecting anyone to empty their pockets, volunteer time or give away old belongings. I am simply asking to please take a few seconds to think about the veterans of America; the young and old, the dead and living and the men and women serving our country today and fighting the “War on Terrorism.”

Today, and every day, is the day to celebrate and honor our military and our veterans for their patriotism, their love for our country, their protection of this nation’s land and their willingness to serve and sacrifice for everyone in America.

Please take this time to remember and reflect on our nation’s military history. We have come a long way.

Want more info? Go to Happy Veterans Day and Semper Fidelis, NIU!