For most of us, Veterans Day brings parades and one-day sales. However, more than 5.5 million Americans spend every day honoring a veteran by providing hands-on emotional and physical care.
Veterans Day began when an unknown World War I American soldier was laid to rest at Arlington Cemetery, at the 11 th hour of the 11 th day of the 11 th month in 1921. Similar ceremonies, at the identical hour, took place at Westminster Abbey in London and at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. All three nations were honoring veterans’ service, and celebrating the arrival of peace — a peace that was hoped to be permanent, with the end of the War to End All Wars.
Forty years ago today, the last American combat troops left Vietnam. The events of that day aren't imprinted on the national consciousness, as are images of overloaded helicopters taking off from Saigon. That evacuation of American personnel and Vietnamese refugees happened two years later, in 1975. Today's anniversary brings up an embarrassing and troubling set of emotions for some of us who questioned the war long ago.
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