November 11 is the day we honor those who risk their lives to serve their country.
Also see Military Connections, Navy,Marines, Army, Air Force, Patriotism and Fourth of July.

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Quotes


A Brief History of Veterans Day

Veterans Day marks the signing of the armistice that ended WWI on November 11, 1918. In the years following many people observed November 11 as a special day. However, it was not until 1938 that Congress passed a bill that each November 11 "shall be dedicated to the cause of world peace and . . . hereafter celebrated and known as Armistice Day." In 1954 Congress changed the name to Veterans Day to recognize veterans of all America's wars. Today we observe November 11 as a day to honor all those who are serving or have served in the military.


Page Ideas

Page Toppers and Page Ideas are in the Military file.


Poems

See A History of Veteran's Day, November 11 and other related poems by Del 'Abe' Jones.


June Fourteenth

(Winifred C. Marshall)

Can you tell why we celebrate
This very special day,
And have you noticed waving flags
All up and down the way?

The bands will play, the children march,
And all the crowds will cheer.
It's the birthday of our flag,
A day that we hold dear.


Remembrance Day

We wear a poppy
On Remembrance Day,
And at eleven
We stand and pray.
Wreaths are put
Upon a grave.
As we remember
Our soldiers brave.


veterans day banner

(Kate Englehardt Clark)

Flags today in tribute wave
For those loyal ones who gave
Of their youth, their hopes, their might
for a cause they knew was right.

Morning bells sound their call.
Pause and say a prayer for all--
All who served valiantly
That men might be ever free.

Taps from quiet Arlington
Echo again.
Ever keep in memory
Peace-loving men.

Who hating tyranny,
Struggled that liberty
Should for all time be
Won for every land.

Once again the challenge came,
And the answer was the same.
Eager hearts have made it clear
We would guard what we hold dear.

Toll of bells, drums' slow beat--
Silence falls in every street.
In each heart swells the plea:
Keep us safe, but keep us free!


They Survived

When you pin that poppy on
And remember those who died
Remember too, the men who fought
Beside them and survived.

They came home to start again
But struggled with their mind
To forget the horror of the days
And the Hell they left behind.

Wounded though they did not bleed
They cried for close friends lost
But fought on bravely, for they knew
Freedom was worth the cost.

Though they are old and scarred for life
They suffered for us all
And in their dreams, the battles rage
And fallen comrades call.

So, when you hear that honor roll
The names of those who died
Remember too, the men who fought
Beside them and survived.


Free

(Adam Ashton)

Free to be happy
Free to be me
Free to become whatever I choose to be
Free to learn
Free to believe
Free to dream extraordinarily
Free to have hope
Free to have vision
Free to have power to change my condition
My life can become whatever I choose it to be
Because others have died so I can be free.


Iraq

(Sandy Lamere Solari, 1998)

Our GI's leaving homelands shore,
to meet Iraq's Hussein once more.
Heroes all as they march on,
to face a foreign land at dawn.

Each one's heart is full of pride,
with our flag right by their side
Each one heeds our nations' call.
we pray not one will take a fall.

We say a prayer for their return,
and Hussein will finally learn,
thus we won't have to bid goodbye,
and not a soul will have to die.

On homeland's front a quiet cheer,
encompassed love, yet full of fear,
We'll wave our flags right here at home,
till all return beneath our dome.

As you safely all return,
we will pray that all men learn,
that war is hell built on fear,
and pray we've shed our final tear.


Ode to the Vietnam Vet

(Michael D. Szyska Sr.)

Oh, Vietnam Vet, what happened then
You fought a war you could not win.
A land of heat and rain and sun
It was a war you could have won!

Our hands were tied, our guns were empty.
Our hearts were in it, but not our Country.
We envisioned in it, that time of war
The crowds, the streamers, the bands galore.
But what we got when we returned
Were protest marches, and flags that burned.

Oh, Vietnam Vet, the war is over now
Or has it just begun!


It is the Soldier

(Charles M. Provinc)

It is the soldier, not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the soldier, not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the soldier, not the campus organizer,
who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.

It is the soldier, not the lawyer,
who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the soldier,
who salutes the flag, who
serves under the flag, and whose coffin is
draped by the flag, who allows the
protester to burn the flag."


In Flanders Fields

(John McCrae)

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


Soldier

(George L. Skypeck, Vietnam Veteran)

I was that which others did not want to be.
I went where others feared to go, and did what others failed to do
I asked nothing from those who gave nothing and reluctantly accepted the thought of eternal loneliness . . . should I fail.
I have seen the face of terror; felt the stinging cold of fear;
and enjoyed the sweet taste of a moment's love.
I have cried, pained, and hoped . . . but most of all,
I have lived times others would say were best forgotten.
At least someday I will be able to say that I was proud of what I was . . . a soldier.


Fifty Thousand Names

(George Jones, written by Jamie O'Hara)

There's teddy bears and high school rings,
And old photographs that mamas bring.
Of daddies with their young boys playin' ball.
There's combat boots he used to wear,
When he was sent over there.
And there's 50,000 names carved in the wall.

There's cigarettes and cans of beer,
And notes that say: "I miss you dear."
And children who don't say anything at all.
There's purple hearts and packs of gum,
Fatherless daughters and fatherless sons.
And there's 50,000 names carved in the wall

They come from all across this land,
In pick-up trucks and mini vans,
Searchin' for a boy from long ago.
They scan the wall and find his name,
The teardrops fall like pourin' rain,
Then silently they leave a gift and go.

There's stars of David and rosary beads,
And crucifixion figurines,
And flowers of all colors large and small.
There's a Boy Scout badge and a merit pin,
Little American flags wavin' in the wind.
And there's 50,000 names carved in the wall

50,000 names carved in the wall.


Freedom Isn't Free

I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Marine saluted it,
and then he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud,
He'd stand out in any crowd.

I thought how many men like him
Had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers' tears?
How many pilots' planes shot down?
How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldiers' graves?
No, freedom isn't free.

I heard the sound of taps one night,
when everything was still
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That taps had meant "Amen,"
When a flag had draped a coffin
Of a brother or a friend.

I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No freedom isn't free.


You Can't Tell a Vet Just By Looking

He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carrier didn't run out of fuel.
He is the barroom loudmouth whose behavior is outweighed in the cosmic scales by four hours of unparalleled bravery near the 38th Parallel in Korea.
She is the nurse who fought against futility in Da Nang and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years.
He is the POW who left one person and came back another.
He is the drill instructor who has never been in combat, but has saved countless lives by turning no-accounts into Marines.
He is the parade-riding legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.
He is the white-haired guy bagging groceries at the supermarket, aggravatingly slow, who helped liberate a Nazi death camp.
Vets are ordinary and extraordinary human beings who offered their life's vital years in the service of their country.
They are soldiers and saviors and a sword against the darkness, and nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known. We will never be able to repay the debt of gratitude we owe.


The Unknown

(E.O. Laughlin)

I do not understand . . .
They bring so many, many flowers to me--
Rainbows of roses, wreaths from every land;
And hosts of solemn strangers come to see
My tomb here on these quiet, wooded heights.
My tomb here seems to be
One of the sights.

The low-voiced men, who speak
Of me quite fondly, call me "The Unknown":
But now and then at dusk, Madonna-meek,
Bent, mournful mothers come to me alone
And whisper down--the flowers and grasses through--
Such names as "Jim" and "John" . . .
I wish they knew.

And once my sweetheart came.
She did not--nay, of course she could not--know,
But thought of me and crooned to me the name
She called my by--how many years ago?
A very precious name. Her eyes were wet,
Yet glowing, flaming so . . .
She won't forget.


Who Stands Alone

(Michael Marks, used with permission)

Eleven thousand soldiers lay beneath the dirt and stone,
all buried on a distant land so far away from home.
For just a strip of dismal beach they paid a hero's price,
to save a foreign nation they all made the sacrifice.

And now the shores of Normandy are lined with blocks of white,
Americans who didn't turn from someone else's plight.
Eleven thousand reasons for the French to take our side,
but in the moment of our need, they chose to run and hide.

Chirac said every war means loss, perhaps for France that's true,
for they've lost every battle since the days of Waterloo.
Without a soldier worth a damn to be found in the region,
the French became the only land to need a Foreign Legion.

You French all say we're arrogant. Well hell, we've earned the right-
We saved your sorry nation when you lacked the guts to fight.
But now you've made a big mistake, and one that you'll regret;
you took sides with our enemies, and that we won't forget.

It wasn't just our citizens you spit on when you turned,
but every one of ours who fell the day the towers burned.
You spit upon our soldiers, on our pilots and Marines,
and now you'll get a little sense of just what pay back means.

So keep your Paris fashions and your wine and your champagne,
and find some other market that will buy your aeroplanes.
And try to find somebody else to wear your French cologne,
for you're about to find out what it means to stand alone.

You see, you need us far more than we ever needed you.
America has better friends who know how to be true.
I'd rather stand with warriors who have the will and might,
than huddle in the dark with those whose only flag is white.

I'll take the Brits, the Aussies, the Israelis and the rest,
for when it comes to valor we have seen that they're the best.
We'll count on one another as we face a moment dire,
while you sit on the sideline with a sign "friendship for hire."

We'll win this war without you and we'll total up the cost,
and take it from your foreign aid, and then you'll feel the loss.
And when your nation starts to fall, well Frenchie, you can spare us,
just call the Germans for a hand, they KNOW, the way to Paris.


The Sands of Christmas

(Michael Marks, December 2003, used with permission)

I had no Christmas spirit when I breathed a weary sigh,
and looked across the table where the bills were piled too high.
The laundry wasn't finished and the car I had to fix,
My stocks were down another point, the Dolphins lost by six.

And so with only minutes till my son got home from school
I gave up on the drudgery and grabbed a wooden stool.
The burdens that I carried were about all I could take,
and so I flipped the TV on to catch a little break.

I came upon a desert scene in shades of tan and rust,
No snowflakes hung upon the wind, just clouds of swirling dust.
And where the reindeer should have stood before a laden sleigh,
eight hummers ran a column right behind an M1A.

A group of boys walked past the tank, not one was past his teens,
Their eyes were hard as polished flint, their faces drawn and lean.
They walked the street in armor with their rifles shouldered tight,
their dearest wish for Christmas, just to have a silent night.

Other soldiers gathered, hunkered down against the wind,
To share a scrap of mail and dreams of going home again.
There wasn't much at all to put their lonely hearts at ease,
They had no Christmas turkey, just a pack of MREs.

They didn't have a garland or a stocking I could see,
They didn't need an ornament-- they lacked a Christmas Tree.
They didn't have a present even though it was tradition,
the only boxes I could see were labeled "ammunition."

I felt a little tug and found my son now by my side,
He asked me what it was I feared, and why it was I cried.
I swept him up into my arms and held him oh so near
and kissed him on the forehead as I whispered in his ear.

There's nothing wrong my little son, for safe we sleep tonight,
our heroes stand on foreign land to give us all the right,
to worry on the things in life that mean nothing at all,
instead of wondering if we will be the next to fall.

He looked at me as children do and said its always right,
to thank the ones who help us and perhaps that we should write.
And so we pushed aside the bills and sat to draft a note,
to thank the many far from home, and this is what we wrote,

God bless you all and keep you safe, and speed your way back home.
Remember that we love you so, and that you're not alone.
The gift you give you share with all, a present every day,
You give the gift of liberty and that we can't repay.


A Soldier's Christmas

(Michael Marks December 7, 2000, used with permission)

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
my daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree, I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep
in perfect contentment, or so it would seem.
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eye when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
and I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

"What are you doing?" I asked without fear
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts,
to the window that danced with a warm fire's light
then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night"

"Its my duty to stand at the front of the line,
that separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.

My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.

I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red white and blue . . . an American flag.

"I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home,
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat,
I can carry the weight of killing another
or lay down my life with my sisters and brothers
who stand at the front against any and all,
to insure for all time that this flag will not fall."

"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone.
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.

For when we come home, either standing or dead,
to know you remember we fought and we bled
is payment enough, and with that we will trust.
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.

(Written loving appreciation of the countless Americans who have and continued to serve in the Armed Forces, and those who gave their life for their country. Your sacrifices will never be forgotten. We look forward to the day you come home. God bless and keep you always, and God Bless America. See more poems by Michael Marks.)


A Soldier Died Today

He was getting old and paunchy
And his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion,
Telling stories of the past.

Of a war that he once fought in
And the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies;
They were heroes, every one.

And 'tho sometimes to his neighbors
His tales became a joke,
All his buddies listened quietly
For they knew where of he spoke.

But we'll hear his tales no longer,
For ol' Bob has passed away,
And the world's a little poorer
For a Soldier died today.

He won't be mourned by many,
Just his children and his wife.
For he lived an ordinary,
Very quiet sort of life.

He held a job and raised a family,
Going quietly on his way;
And the world won't note his passing,
'Tho a Soldier died today.

When politicians leave this earth,
Their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing,
And proclaim that they were great.

Papers tell of their life stories
From the time that they were young
But the passing of a Soldier
Goes unnoticed, and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution
To the welfare of our land,
Some jerk who breaks his promise
And cons his fellow man?

Or the ordinary fellow
Who in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his country
And offers up his life?

The politician's stipend
And the style in which he lives,
Are often disproportionate,
To the service that he gives.

While the ordinary Soldier,
Who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal
And perhaps a pension, small.

It's so easy to forget them,
For it is so many times
That our Bobs and Jims and Johnnys,
Went to battle, but we know,

It is not the politicians
With their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom
That our country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger,
With your enemies at hand,
Would you really want some cop-out,
With his ever waffling stand?

Or would you want a Soldier--
His home, his country, his kin,
Just a common Soldier,
Who would fight until the end.

He was just a common Soldier,
And his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us
We may need his like again.

For when countries are in conflict,
We find the Soldier's part
Is to clean up all the troubles
That the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honor
While he's here to hear the praise,
Then at least let's give him homage
At the ending of his days.

Perhaps just a simply headline
In the paper that might say:
"Our Country Is In Mourning,
A SOLDIER DIED TODAY."


Songs about Veterans