It ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month — our young planet’s first global war was over. Too bad it wasn’t our last.
Blood continues to spill on battlefields around the world. The United States military still has soldiers on some of those God forsaken sites, still in harm’s way.
In the last decade, and then some, we have lost so many U.S. servicemen and women, mainly in Iraq and Afghanistan. We experienced nearly 4,500 American military casualties in Iraq. In Afghanistan, the number tops 2,000.
We have holidays that serve to remind us of sacrifices made by our fighting men and women. We need these reminders.
Veterans Day is observed in the U.S. every Nov. 11 to honor those who have served in the armed services. It coincides with other holidays such as Armistice Day and Remembrance Day, celebrated in other parts of the world to mark the anniversary of the end of World War I.
We need reminders because we’re quick to forget and let our minds be preoccupied by other matters that vie for our attention.
There are other ways for us to remember our service men and women, and in turn, for them to know we are thinking about them. One way is with the stars from tattered American flags.
We were moved by this simple gesture last fall, during local observances of Veterans Day.
After a day of speeches, wreaths and tears, a 21-gun salute and the playing of “Taps,” a dignified disposal of unserviceable flags was held at the American Legion Post 147 in Rockingham.
This past November, the ceremony took a new and sentimental twist when the veterans had the idea to cut out the stars of the flags to be disposed of and send them to soldiers stationed overseas.
Post Commander Robert Steele said, “We did a disposal of old and worn out flags. We held a ceremony and burned them in a pit. In the ceremony each officer present has to observe the flag and say it is not serviceable. It’s a sign of respect.”
Each star that is cut out is sent to a soldier stationed overseas with a card that reads, “I am part of an American flag. I have flown over a home. I can no longer fly. Sun and winds have caused me to become tattered and torn. Please carry me as a reminder that you are not forgotten.”
Boy Scouts assisted with the process.
The idea came from Richard Lunceford, who has a son stationed in Afghanistan. “… It makes me feel great to do something for him and other soldiers over there, so they can have something to keep, to know in his mind that somebody at home thinks something of him,” said Lunceford.
Every day ought to be Remembrance Day.
We owe our veterans a great deal. The least we can do is keep them in our thoughts, while on the battlefield and after they return home and begin life after their military service is complete.