Thursday, November 11, 2004

Veterans Day in Key West

It's Veterans Day morning here in Key West, a few minutes after 11:00 AM, the time that the armistice was signed in 1918 ending World War I. Armistice Day was established as a national holiday by a concurrent resolution in Congress in 1926. The name was changed to Veterans Day in 1954, and the focus was changed from a memorial to the end of World War I to a recognition of all veterans from any military service.

The celebration of Veterans Day in Key West is much like the thousands of other similar celebrations that take place all around the country. There's a memorial service held here at the Key West/Florida Keys Historical Military Memorial in Mallory Square, conducted by the Navy League. That memorial, by the way, was damaged by vandals last Friday, and a $1000 reward is being offered for apprehension and conviction of the perpetrators.

I am a veteran (of the Navy), and so are each of my four brothers, three of whom served during wartime, two of them in Vietnam . Among us are veterans of the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force. And our Dad was a veteran of World War II. I remember with pride both our mother and father marching with the American Legion in Veterans Day parades in Tyngsboro, Massachusetts when we were growing up there, and later when we ourselves were grown and raising families.

The Key West Museum of Art and History in the Customs House near Mallory Square is offering free admission to the museum today to any veteran, and I may take advantage of that later on.

As I'm writing this, I'm watching the ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington Cemetery on CSPAN. It is entirely appropriate that these ceremonies be held, as they have been for as long as I can remember. Yet, I'm struck this time by the martial nature of the ceremonies, of the music, and of the brief speeches given by several of the participants including, just now, President Bush. I had a similar feeling last weekend while at the air show at Boca Chica. As moving and stirring as these events are, I reflect on the idea that we celebrate war, and victory over 'enemies', and that mankind has done so for as long as history has recorded. I said to Red yesterday, as we talked at the Coffee Plantation in the afternoon, "I'm from the Rodney King school. 'People, why can't we all just get along'."

1 comment:

Suntree Sleddog said...

Technically, you had three brothers that served during Vietnam. It would be more correct to say that you had two brothers that served "in" Vietnam.

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