A sea of tens of thousands gather in New York City holding portraits of soldiers, waving the American flag, and wearing the army uniform. The feeling of pride and patriotism emanates from each person, as they gather together to commemorate those who served in the military. Every year since 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I, on November 11th, America honors those who have sacrificed and pledged to served in the world´s greatest military power. It’s hard not to be proud of such an accomplishment, but what does this mean to the privileged youth of today?
“I think Veterans Day is important because we are honoring those who died for our country… and I think we all honor them in our own way, and that there should be more awareness about it. We should also take time to respect those who have given their lives for our country,” says Salma Khan explaining the significance of Veterans Day. The word honor is often used to exemplify the importance of the Veterans’ sacrifices, but how can a teenager honor a soldier’s service?
“I think it’s nice to do something to show our appreciation… I think there should be a parade… but where I came from, we just had a day off from school, but I think we should have a parade or fireworks… I think it’s just more honorable,” says Sayumi Baduge. Veterans Day is celebrated in many ways amongst adults, but what can teens do to honor soldiers? Honoring soldiers through expressing appreciation is a recurring theme, “One thing students can do to honor the soldiers is to spread the word of their importance and good deeds. One can also find out if there is a veteran in their neighborhood and write a kind letter or email to them,” says Liam Kahan expounding how small actions can have big impacts.
According to the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Day was originally known as “Armistice Day” after the armistice, or temporary termination of war, between Germany and the Allied nations on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Later in 1954, after World War ll and the Korean War, President Eisenhower renamed it “Veterans Day”, to respect and appreciate those who had served in any and all wars.
“Veterans have risked their lives for the good of our country, and it’s imperative that we show gratitude for their hard work”, says Liam Kahan, sharing the same sentiment President Wilson had in November of 1919 when he said, “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…”
“People go out and people almost die for keeping us safe even though we don’t really think about it…” says Brigitte Wala bringing up a disturbing thought: every year November 11th passes, but do we as America’s youth, take even a minute of time to think about all the soldiers who have risked so much to make America what it is today?
Graphics: Sanjna Rajagopalan