At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month the fighting stopped. Recognition of the celebrated end of World War I became known as Armistice Day.
It became a national holiday by Congressional resolution in 1938. According to the "VFW Citizenship Education", if the idealistic hope had been realized that World War I was "the War to end all Wars," Nov. 11 might still be called Armistice Day.
But just a few years later war broke out in Europe. Sixteen and a half million Americans took part.
Congress realized that peace was equally preserved by veterans of WW II and Korea. At the request of Congress, President Eisenhower signed a bill, in 1954, to honor those who served America in all wars and proclaimed Nov. 11 as Veterans Day.
Much has been written about the American soldier, serving in whatever capacity he's called to, and the hardships he endures to help preserve our country's freedoms. Seldom do we know the actual thoughts of the soldier.
One Brazil man, while serving in Vietnam, put his thoughts down on paper and sent it home to the local newspaper. In the late 1960s, Robert Wickware, son of Jay and Leona Wickware, was a Combat Field Medic with the 4th Infantry. He sent this letter to the Brazil times.
I have seen a lot of soldiers come into the Second Surgical Hospital. I have seen a lot of them die and a lot live. I just couldn't help but put something down on paper to show my feeling.
Life means a lot to some people, but to me it means nothing. Life is only a room that you must go through only once and once only. Death seems like a trickling stream beside a lovely valley far away. So many people have looked for peace, but they don't know that it is only a step away. When I see the mortars coming in and the villages being bombed, I wonder, is it all worth it?
Then you see where Vietnamese people have been shot and starved by their own neighbors and sometimes family, you know that this is the only alternative. So why look at death like it is something cold and painful when it is only a peaceful sleep. As it says in the Bible: 'Oh grave where is thy victory, oh death, where is thy sting. For after life is death and after death is life.'
Pfc. Robert L. Wickware
563rd Med. Cir. Co.
Mary Holiday, mother of local artist, Jane Mercer, was touched by Robert's letter. She responded with a letter to Robert and another to the newspaper.
I wonder how many people here forgot or for some reason, did not read the letter 'To the Editor' written by Robert Wickware, one of our own home town boys, who is now fighting in Vietnam. The letter was in Saturday's paper.
If they did not read it, I hope they read it now. It should make us all feel guilty for not writing more letters and not supporting our boys who are there fighting and giving their lives so we over here can be safe.
When the boys over there hear about the riots, draft card burning, etc., no wonder they at times think as Robert said, in his letter, they wonder if it is all worth it. I hope everyone who reads his letter will write to Robert and to the many boys, and tell them we are proud of them, that we are praying for them and hoping they will soon be home.
In this busy age we live in, we are so apt to forget all the blessings we have in this wonderful country of ours, and it is only made possible by Robert and boys like him that we can live in, and enjoy this beautiful land, America.
Mrs. Mary Holiday"
Both Robert's and Mary's letter are still timely today. American sons and daughters are still fighting and dying in a foreign land trying to secure freedom for a politically enslaved people.
Today's soldiers are still willing to sacrifice their lives to keep America free for their children and grandchildren.
"Some people didn't like the Vietnam war so they blamed it on the soldiers," Jane Mercer said. "Mom was concerned how the Vietnam soldiers were treated when they came home. She heard some soldiers were actually spit on when they returned home. That really upset her. They were risking their life for freedom and they were treated like that. When Mom saw local soldiers' names in the paper, she'd write to them to encourage them and thank them."
Americans should take time this Veterans Day to remember, honor, and thank all United States military personnel, those who fought, those who are fighting and those who support the warriors.