By JIM PERRY, Publisher
Gainesville Daily Register
Gainesville really knows how to celebrate Veteran’s Day. On Monday, complete with an Honor Guard, Old Glory and many distinguished and decorated defenders of our freedom, we will pause to remember and respect those who have served our country through the military.
A huge fireworks display will cap the evening dedicated to those who served in our Armed Forces to preserve and protect our freedom.
Did you ever wonder why Veteran’s Day is typically celebrated at 11 a.m. on 11/11? World War I, known at the time as “The Great War,” officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in Versailles, France.
However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”
Veteran’s Day is special to me and is filled with bittersweet emotions. Looking back, I’ll always remember my dad talking about landing on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
I can only imagine what that must have been like. It’s an adrenaline rush just to think about jumping from the boat and running across that beach under enemy fire with a full pack and rifle.
Dad never talked much about his war years while I was growing up. That was always a topic he kept to himself. Toward the end of his life that notion seemed to change. He wanted the grandkids to hear some of his stories and me too, I guess, since that was the first time I’d heard them.
After dad passed away, I found photos he had stashed away from his war years. That part of his life became much more real to me seeing him in uniform, seeing the look in his eyes, knowing the ultimate price so many of his friends paid to preserve our freedom.
Many family members have served our country. We have a rich family history in service. The McKinneys on my mom’s side served, with her dad in WWI and her brothers in WWII.
The Texas McMinns on my wife’s side of the family defended our freedom for generations. They’ve all left a rich family legacy of service.
It’s different and even more personal for me now. Just a few short years ago, our youngest son Kevin joined the Army. We watched him grow through the boot camp experience and into medical assistance training.
He graduated at Fort Sam Houston and headed overseas to be stationed in South Korea. He loves the Army and has excelled in the experience. His wife and family have joined him to make their home in South Korea during his tour there.
I worry about my son, daughter and three beautiful grandchildren living so far away from home. The face in every military picture I see in the news or online becomes the face of my son. I see the face I watched grow from a child to a man with a family of his own.
I know many of you share these feelings and emotions. You have family members or friends serving our country or who have served in the past. I hope you’ll join with me in support of our troops both at home and overseas. Let’s pause for a moment and thank them for their service to our nation.
This Veteran’s Day I hope you’ll join me with your thoughts and prayers for those serving in our Armed Forces. Pray to keep them safe and in thankfulness for their sacrifice and dedication to preserving our freedom.
Let’s thank them for their service to our country and for holding steadfast to the cause that has meant so much to so many for generations.