by Norman Jones
This is without a doubt the most exciting time of the year for me. With a mixture of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, could we ask for anything more?
Well, there is still one additional holiday that comes before all three of the aforementioned, at least chronologically. It is a day that was originally known as Armistice Day, after which it became a holiday in 1926 and then a national holiday in 1938. On June 1, 1954, the name of the holiday was officially changed to Veterans Day to honor all American veterans.
National President Dr. Norman Jones, Jr. and wife, Dianne, pause outside Arlington National Cemetery before departing for reception hosted by the Marine Corps League.
In 1968, this holiday was changed to the fourth Monday in October to bring still another three-day weekend to the American worker. Because this change never resonated well with veterans and just didn't feel right to the American public, Congress in 1978 restored tradition and returned Veterans Day to its rightful November 11.
Did you fly your stars and stripes on Veterans Day and throughout the week leading up to it? In the event that the answer is no, please make a change next year. Let the stars and stripes fly proudly, at the same time demonstrating to your community how you feel about your country.
There are still other ways in which we can demonstrate our loyalty to our country and those who have defended it. When was the last time that we went to a VA Medical Center just for the sake of visiting our fellow veterans? Have we visited a veterans nursing home or a homebound veteran? Or, if we cannot get out much ourselves, did we call a few veterans to wish them a Happy Veterans Day?
These may not seem like grandiose gestures but they can make huge differences in others’ lives. After all, it is not the preacher but the veteran who has secured our freedom of religion. It is not the reporter but the veteran who has given us freedom of the press. It is not the poet but the veteran who has secured our freedom to speak and write. It is not the college campus organizer but the veteran who has provided us the freedom to assemble. It is not the lawyer but the veteran who has given us the right to a fair trial. It is not the politician but the veteran who has given us the right to vote. It is not the teacher either but the veteran also who has secured for us the right to attend any school of higher learning and pursue our desirable goals.
In short, the freedoms we enjoy would be few and far between if not for our beloved comrades of the American Armed Forces.
On Veterans Day 2007, just a little past the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, I experienced something that will remain with me for the rest of my life. I found myself standing on a hillside overlooking Washington, DC and the Potomac River with my beautiful and trusted wife, Dianne, preparing to represent all 10,831 of you, the BVA membership, in the presentation of our wreath at Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknowns.
Flanked on my left was Dale Stamper and to my right John Crabtree. As we walked down the ramp and delivered the wreath, my mind raced in an instant to the many fallen comrades whom I have known personally. Although I could not see the Honor Guard, I could discern by the sounds of their boots that they were impeccably attired, that their steps were perfectly in sync, and that their minds were single to the sacred task they were performing. Thanks go to the BVA membership for allowing us to personally witness this wonderful display of respect toward veterans everywhere.
With Veterans Day now behind us once again, and not forgetting the reason for the season, I wish all blinded veterans, their families, and all of our organization’s friends a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, a wonderful Kwanzaa, and a prosperous and joyous New Year.
I am currently making travel plans to participate in a Christmas dinner with the newly formed Columbus Chapter of the Georgia Regional Group. Guided by Joe McNeil and Clifford Jones, this chapter is making great progress. I am also preparing a membership drive letter to reach all regional group presidents and secretaries by the first of the year. Please do not forget our goal, which is for each BVA member to find one new member. There is no question that we can do this because of who we are as an organization and our great potential to be of service to those who need us most.
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