Photo by Butch Meriwether.
Americans from across our great nation will pay homage Saturday in observance of Veterans Day.
Veterans Day is a national holiday held every Nov. 11 honoring and thanking all men and women, both living and deceased who served in the U.S. military, for their patriotism, heroism, and willingness to serve their country in the face of danger.
There is confusion among Americans when it comes to honoring veterans. Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day only honors those who died while in military service. It also should not be confused with Armed Forces Day, a minor U.S. remembrance that also occurs in May, which specifically honors those currently serving in the U.S. military.
If Veterans Day falls on a Saturday, as it does this year, most states observe it on the preceding Friday, and all banks and government offices will be closed today.
There are about 2,133,068 U.S. military personnel currently serving; that includes 817,459 National Guard members and 1,315,609 active duty personnel. Of that number, nearly 200,000 of them are currently deployed around the world at 800 bases in 177 countries.
Some of the wars the U.S. participated in were relatively short periods, but some were longer. The top 10 lengths of U.S. participation in wars are: War in Afghanistan, Moro Rebellion, Northwest Indian War, Iraq War, American Revolutionary War, Vietnam Conflict, Second Seminole War, First Barbary War, American Civil War and World War II.
The top 10 wars by actual combat related deaths are: World War II (1941 – 1945, 291,557); American Civil War (1861 – 1865, 214,524 – includes both Union and Confederate troops); World War I (1917 – 1918, 63,114); Vietnam Conflict (never actually designated a war) (1960 – 1973, 47,434); Korean Conflict (never actually designated a war) (1950 – 1953, 33,739); American Revolutionary War (1775 – 1783, 6,800); Iraq/Afghanistan Wars (2001 – 2014, 5,790); War of 1812 (1812 – 1815, 2,260); Mexican-American War (1848 -1848, 1,733); and Second Seminole War (1835 – 1842, 1,500-plus).
Government officials estimate there are more than 666,000 Americans who have died as a result of combat since 1775 and another 1,498,240 were wounded in action. It is further estimated that there are currently 40,917 U.S. service members listed as missing in action. However, many of those are presumed dead.
Many VFWs, American Legions, military fraternal, and other fraternal and civilian organizations throughout Arizona, Nevada and California will be conducting ceremonies for Veterans Day. People interested in attending a Veterans Day celebration, should contact their local military fraternal, and other fraternal and civilian organizations to see what they might have scheduled.
Remember what the true reason to participate in Veterans Day ceremonies is and reflect upon those who are serving this great nation and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Take the time to research Veterans Day, and if someone says they don't know why it is a national holiday, take the time to explain exactly why it is so important to our country and the American people.
Editor’s Note: Butch Meriwether is a retired U.S. Marine Corps gunnery sergeant who served his country from Jan. 2, 1964 – Aug. 30, 1984 and had combat tours of duty in Vietnam during 1967-1970.