Veterans Day should not be glossed over


Photo: Bryan Langfeldt/Iowa State Daily

Veeterans Day is not a day to be forgotten. Veterans Day is a time to remember the men and women who serve and have served our country.

Edward Leonard

What does Veterans Day mean to you? To most of us it’s a day we use to call up our uncle who was in Vietnam or send a letter to a friend in Afghanistan, and then go on about our day. It’s a special day, to be sure, but one that doesn’t make a huge impact on our lives.

To me, Veterans Day makes me think of my parents, both of whom served in the Air Force, gathering intelligence during the Cold War. As a little boy I was in awe of the star power of both of them, along with the rest of my classmates when my parents came in every November to talk to the kids about Veterans Day and what it means.

As I’ve grown, though, I’ve found a new respect for those who serve. I’ve had the privilege to meet veterans from pretty much every war since World War II. None of these people are superhuman; all of them are individuals linked only in that they served.

In their service, though, all of these people were called upon, whether by volunteer or by the draft, to put aside themselves, their own interests and, in essence, their world. They gave these things up to go all over the world, often to meet with people outwardly hostile and sometimes violent in order to maintain the way of life that we will, no doubt, continue after our day is concluded without fear.

Today, like every other Veterans Day, we are called to do just a little, to hold in mind the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who have protected us. However, this time we have an opportunity to do this in a unique way.

A name will be added to the wall at 3 p.m. Thursday at Gold Star Hall in the Memorial Union: John Hubert Woodward, a veteran of World War I.

This represents the chance for all ISU students to remember and honor the servicemen and -women of Iowa State. The ceremony will consist of not only the adding of the name to Gold Star Hall, but also the telling of the stories of veterans of World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War.

These stories will help remind any student who attends to understand what service requires of people. The names engraved in the hall all died in combat, so the mood of the afternoon will, most likely, be less than uplifting. The message, though, is one that we should be reminded of.

We too often take for granted the circumstances of our day-to-day lives. We don’t always realize the gravity of the existence of something like the First Amendment, which allows this newspaper to publish pretty much whatever it wants, even if it’s not totally in line with the opinions of those in power. It’s because of the First Amendment that events like the massacre at Tiananmen Square are unheard of here.

It is our republican system, governed by the checks and balances of the branches of our government, that allow us to live without a dictator on the order of Saddam Hussein or Kim Jong-Il.

And this isn’t something we even need fear. We are separated by a comfortable margin from the conditions that are present elsewhere in the world.

For this we have our military to thank. The men and women honored today are the ones who ensure these freedoms for us, and one of them is being recognized in a very special way.