Courage. Honor. Sacrifice. These are just a few of the words that come to mind when thinking about the brave men and women who have served our country in the armed forces and defended our freedom, and Veterans Day is a wonderful opportunity to show them our appreciation.
Americans recognize and honor veterans on November 11 each year because World War I ended on the 11th day of the 11th hour of the 11th month in 1918. The following year President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 to be Armistice Day, sharing these inspiring words with a grateful nation: “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, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”
In 1938 Armistice Day was designated an official holiday to honor veterans of WWI. In 1954, after WWII and the Korean War, Congress declared November 11 a day to honor all American war veterans.
More than 41 million Americans have served in the U.S. Armed Forces over the course of our nation’s history. This proud tradition began with the formation of the Continental Army during the American Revolution, an era brought to dramatic life by the megahit musical “Hamilton.”
More than 16 million Americans served during WWII alone – including Marion Burns, a resident of Lexington Square senior living community, whose time as a Navy Seaman serving aboard the USS Franklin was recently documented by longtime Chicago reporter Paul Meincke of ABC7 on the Honor Flight Chicago podcast.
According to a report released by the U.S. Census Bureau in June, approximately 18 million Americans were veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces in 2018. These veterans range in age from 18 to over 100 years old, with the median age being 65 years old. WWII veterans are the oldest still with us today, with a median age of about 95. NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw dubbed the men and women who lived through this time the Greatest Generation for their dedication and sacrifice. About 1.4 million men and women are on active duty today.
Here are some ways to show appreciation for the men and women who have defended our freedom over the years.
- Listen to a veteran’s story. If you do not know a veteran personally, check out the Library of Congress’s Veterans History Project. This site features interviews and memoirs, war correspondence, photographs, scrapbooks, and more. Be sure to check out Lexington Square retirement community resident Marion Burns’ amazing story, too.
- Write a postcard or e-card to a veteran thanking them for their service. If anyone would like to send “Dear Veteran” cards to Lexington Square Elmhurst, 400 Butterfield Road, Elmhurst IL, 60126, or Lexington Square Lombard, 555 Foxworth Blvd, Lombard, IL, 60148, we will make sure our veterans receive them!
- Pay a visit to one of the veterans memorials in Elmhurst’s Wilder Park or in Lombard to read the names of those who served.
- Donate to one of the many amazing organizations that serve veterans, such as the Wounded Warrior Project or USO Operation Phone Home.
- Many businesses offer discounts to veterans as a way to show their thanks and appreciation, including businesses in Elmhurst and Lombard. You can support those businesses and thank them for their generosity.
We will be hosting some recognition events for our residents over the next several days.
Whether it is asking a veteran to share their story, writing a postcard, or just saying a heartfelt thank you, we hope everyone will take time this Veterans Day to show their appreciation for those who have served our country. We must never forget that we are the land of the free because of the brave.