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What Veterans Day Truly Means

posted Nov 14, 2013, 6:17 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Nov 14, 2013, 8:30 AM by Unknown user ]

Kristin Conner


President Woodrow Wilson started Armistice Day back on Nov. 11, 1919, which later came to be known as Veterans Day.  It’s the celebration and gratitude toward those who served in the military, both past and present.

          

Veterans Day continues to be celebrated on Nov. 11 every year, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The celebration of Veterans Day on Nov. 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the true purpose of Veterans Day: a celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

           

Many don’t quite understand the true meaning of Veterans Day.  Many teenagers don’t even know what it means, being told that it’s Veterans Day and they think nothing of it.  They’re unable to see why it is celebrated.


There’s a ceremony that is held for the veterans that is at Arlington National Cemetery.  The ceremony begins at 11 a.m. with the laying of a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns.  The Tomb of the Unknowns is a burial site where many unknown soldiers are represented so that even though they’re unknown, they’re still recognized for being in the military and dying for this country.  The ceremony continues with a parade of colors inside the Memorial Amphitheater.





Photo courtesy of eventresources.com (fair use)


In addition to this, there are several different celebratory activities around the country.

          

Here in Van Buren, Veteran’s Day is celebrated by constructing a wall of honor.  Students are asked to nominate relatives that are veterans, or even just people they know of being one. The names of the veterans and their nominator get put up on the wall. This wall is located right outside the high school office on entry of the 7th grade hallway.

        

The meaning of Veterans Day means something not only to, the veterans but to the family members as well.

Brice Armstrong, a junior, has a brother McKinley Armstrong currently serving in the United States Air Force.  Brice himself would also like to join the military.


Brice stated, “It runs in my family. My brother, my father, both my grandfathers, and both my great-grandfathers were in the military so it just makes me want to join as well.”

           

McKinley joined the Air Force back in 2009, after he graduated from Van Buren, because he wanted to serve his country.


“It’s a day of remembrance for people that were lost protecting our country,” said McKinley, in regards to what Veterans Day means to him. “I would say that Veterans Day goes unnoticed and it makes me frustrated because it’s important to me and my fellow airmen would say the same.”

           

Brice has much respect for his brother and other veterans. “I have a huge amount of respect for them.  They (militants) go out to other countries and fight for what’s right and they do the right thing, in my opinion.”

          

Brice is not the only student at Van Buren with relatives in the military.  Junior Wade Schimmoeller’s grandfather served as well.

        

Ernest Schimmoeller, who is now deceased, was an infantryman in WWII. During his life, Ernest did not like to talk about his time at war because it was too hard for him.  Whenever he did, however, he would get choked up and change the subject.  Although, his son, Mark Schimmoeller (Wade’s father), was able to pick up on a couple of things.

           

Ernest was wounded while lying in a fox-hole after being in Germany for a short time (6 months).  A mortar struck his rifle which exploded, sending shrapnel deposits in his arm and shattering his ear drum.  Ernest was sent to a hospital in France where he could see the Eiffel Tower from his window. He was sent home after his recovery and received a Purple Heart medal.

           

Another story that Mark remembered was that Ernest and a few others in his squad were in the German countryside and extremely hungry when they came across an abandoned house.  They barricaded themselves in the basement of this house and ate a lot of canned goods that they found down there.  While they were down there, they could hear the heavy footsteps German soldiers outside moving about.  


“This one put shivers up my spine,” said Mark.

         

“My dad was very proud to have served his country and had respect for all of those in the armed forces, as do I,” Mark revealed.

          

Mackenzie Howard, junior, has a father who also served in the military by being in the Navy for 6 years.


He first was stationed off the coast of Yugoslavia and second off the coast of Iraq during the Gulf War.  


To Mr. Howard, being a veteran “Is an honor because I was able to serve this country. I have much pride in the fact that I did serve.”  He also said “I joined the army because my great grandfather, grandfather, father and brother all served, so I did too.”


           Wendy Sunderman, middle school English teacher at Van Buren, has a grandfather who served in World War II. Her grandfather doesn’t like to talk about his war experience because it is just too hard for him.  He did, however, write a letter to Sunderman’s family while in combat.

           

Emotions often run high in veterans. Not only do their voices become choked up and change the subject, but their eyes also fill with tears.


Sometimes there is a lack of recognition veterans receive after having laid their lives on the line for the country that they love. Veterans Day is the one day out of the year when Americans should thank these people.  Shake their hand, thank them, give them a smile, anything to recognize and respect veterans on their day.  


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