So how does Veterans Day relate to Wide Horizon, a Christian Science nursing organization in Colorado? Well, in its 70 plus-year record of uninterrupted service providing Christian Science nursing care, Wide Horizon (probably like other care facilities) has cared for many veterans and their families. It’s a record for which we are humbly proud to include in our history. Also, we are grateful for the veterans who have served on Wide Horizon’s staff or as volunteers!
Even though Veterans Day was last Thursday, I’m writing about it partly because my dearly departed Dad – Col. Wilfred Otis Boettiger – was a veteran of four wars in his military career that spanned four decades. He first served in the National Guard and then in the United States Army. Go Army! He was an artillery officer before his long career in the Army Air Defense, which included protecting Air Force bases and being much involved in the Nike Missile program in both Germany and Japan. (Maybe Nike (think swoosh) got its slogan “Just Do It” from the Cold War era? Actually, if you wish to know, read “Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight.) Although my Dad was not a Christian Scientist, he appreciated and often supported the practice of Christian Science (mostly by my devoted Mom) in our family and home. Obviously, he was the first veteran I knew and respected. As a youth, he was also my hero.
Veterans Day is a federal holiday in the United States observed annually on November 11, for honoring military veterans who have served in the United States Armed Forces. (Wikipedia) It was first recognized as Armistice Day in 1919 – its origins go back to the end of World War I. It marks when the fighting ceased on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. At the time, November 11, 1918 was regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars,” according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. [How wonderful for all mankind had this statement been true!] In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day, stating: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory.” About 20 years later, Congress passed a law to mark November 11 as a legal holiday in 1938. In 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower signed a law that changed the name to its current form: “Veterans Day” – shifting the holiday’s focus from the original dedication of WW I veterans to all veterans of all wars. (USA Today)
Coincidentally in the United Kingdom and Canada, it’s called Remembrance Day – a memorial day that’s observed in Commonwealth member states since the end of the First World War to honor armed forces members who have died in the line of duty. Many people wear the Royal British Legion’s poppy, which is a symbol of flowers that grew from the graves of those who fell on the Western Front in World War I. (Online sources)
In the US, government offices are closed – post offices, city and state courts – as well as banks and schools. Many restaurants provide free meals and retailers give discounts to both veterans and active-duty military personnel on November 11th.
The theme for Veterans Day 2021 is “Honoring All Who Served” – those men and women who have made sacrifices (often extreme) to serve their country by being away from their loved ones in times of need. In 2010, there were about 21.8 million veterans in the United States. (There are fewer now.) There are around 9 million veterans over the age of 65, and around 1.6 million veterans are women. (Google)
President John F. Kennedy stated regarding Veterans Day: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” I learned that Wreaths Across America (WAA; wreathsacrossamericas.org), which is a nonprofit organization, has an extensive volunteer network. Its mission is “to remember the fallen, honor those who have served and to teach the next generation about the cost and value of freedom.” (Costco Connection, November 2021) Its an organization that exemplifies benevolent action.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, wrote in her seminal work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “Action expresses more gratitude than speech” (p. 3). Moreover, Christ Jesus, who showed and taught that life in God is eternal, stated, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (Gospel of John, 15:13, NKJV).
Veterans have often laid down their lives, figuratively and literally, in service to country, friends and strangers. Most veterans and their families have made remarkable sacrifices, usually without great expectations or complaints, in their service.
Do you know a veteran? If you do or even if you don’t, we should celebrate these worthy individuals who have served in the military, whether in war or peace. Regardless of one’s politics, these men and women are to be sincerely appreciated.
So, during the year, thank a veteran on any day!
D. Brian Boettiger