This is an essay Amy wrote for her Sophomore Honors English class. It makes me more than a little proud.
Veterans: For Sale?
Each year on the 11th day of the 11th month, people across America observe a day of remembrance. Veterans Day is supposed to be a day of remembrance; a day to remember all those men and women who have served or are serving in the armed forces. It was never intended to be a day for people to flock to the stores in search of good deals, or a day for businesses to make a few extra dollars. The real meaning is being lost—obscured by the “Veterans Day Sale!” posters plastered all over store windows. If they aren’t torn down soon, the idea of remembering veterans will be replaced by the idea of buying and selling.
Originally called “Armistice Day”, November 11 was a day to celebrate the end of the First World War and commemorate those who fought in it. It was later renamed “Veterans Day” and the commemoration extended to all veterans—past, present, and future. Unfortunately, there was another, bigger change. Businesses began to see this day as a time to advertise sales, attract customers, and make more money. People started associating this noble occasion with terms akin to “Veterans Day Sale! 50% Off” and “Big Savings This Veterans Day!” However, the commercialization didn’t stop there. Several years ago I was at Fred Meyer’s around the 11th, and there was a rack stuffed with American flags, some spilling onto the floor. There was a sign on this rack which proclaimed “Clearance-Flags 50% Off.” Is this right? Are American flags, the symbol of our country, so insignificant that they can be crammed onto shelves and dropped on the floor for the purpose of putting a few extra dollars in someone’s pocket? This was not the idea in mind when the 11th day of November was christened Armistice Day, nor even when it was renamed Veterans Day. It was not meant to be a day of making and saving money, or a day to sell flags at half price. It was a day to remember.
Veterans Day is a day set aside to honor the men and women who have served or are serving in our armed forces. These veterans have given us the freedom to live our lives, even at the cost of their own. This day was set aside to remember these brave people and pay tribute to the sacrifices they have made for their fellow countrymen, and yet they have made it into a day of big deals and big savings. We are forgetting that the real purpose of Veterans Day is not the sales in the stores, but the salute to our veterans who defend this piece of land we call home. My great uncle fought in WWII and was killed while imprisoned by the Japanese. He fought for his country alongside millions of other men and women. For the sake of all veterans and their memories, we cannot forget that the reason for Veterans Day, is the veterans. The name “Veterans Day” helps to remind us that this is a day belonging to veterans, as well as a day to show them that they are not forgotten. Let’s hope that in years to come the name of the 11th day of the 11th month is not changed again, or that if it is, it does not become “Sale’s Day.”
We cannot afford to forget the true meaning of Veterans Day. It holds too much importance to become a date of barely remembered significance. This holiday pays tribute to the very people who make it possible for us to live the lives we do and give us or freedom. Forgetting or dismissing the meaning of this day would be like saying “veterans aren’t as important as saving money,” but veterans are important. If there were no veterans, there would be no United States of America or, for those people who would rather observe the occasion with sales, Veterans Day sales.
The 11th day of the 11th month was designated a holiday as a way to remember the veterans of WWI. Now it is called Veterans Day, but the idea is still one of the remembrance of veterans. However, the shadow of commercialism is falling over this date as it has many others, and is threatening to obscure its true purpose. We must make sure that Veterans Day never loses its meaning, for that is one far too important to lose. As it stands, we are far too close to saying “don’t forget that sale” instead of “don’t forget that veteran."
Photo credit: Alan Berner