In the United States, today is called Veterans Day. It’s one of the few national holidays not celebrated on a Monday; it gets its actual day, Nov. 11, which marks the end of World War 1 in 1918. In other countries it’s known as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day. This is the anniversary of what was supposed to be the end of all wars. It wasn’t, of course — let’s just say that since 1918 way too many people have had the opportunity to serve in the military; today is the day we thank them for their service. It’s not the day we honor the fallen — that’s Memorial Day. This is the day to honor our living friends and relatives who have given their commitment, time and energy for a cause they perceived as just — or were drafted by their government and given no choice.
Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
— Francis Scott Key, “The Star Spangled Banner,” verse 4