Weekly Column from Community Board #12 (The Bronx)







Father Richard F. Gorman


Community Board #12 (The Bronx)




To Honor A Vet,

Hire A Vet




This column will probably reach you a few days after the annual November 11TH celebration of Veterans Day.  Nevertheless, I trust what I write is timely not only on the eleventh day of each November, but every day of the year.  If not for those who were willing to put on the uniform of the of the Armed Forces of these great United States, no day would be a good day for America and for you and for me.

Many Americans  —  perhaps it is fair to say most Americans  —  mistakenly believe that Veterans Day is the day that our Nation sets aside in order to honor all of the members of the United Sates Military who either died in battle or in consequence of wounds sustained from combat.  This is not quite true.  Memorial Day is the Federal holiday in the United States for remembering the men and the women who died while serving in our Country’s Armed Forces.  This holiday, which is celebrated every year on the last Monday of May, was formerly known as Decoration Day and originated after the War Between the States in order to commemorate both the Union and the Confederate soldiers who died during the war.  By the twentieth century, Memorial Day had been conceptually enlarged to honor all Americans who died while in the military service.  It typically marks the start of the Summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its conclusion.

Veterans Day, conversely, commemorates ALL United States Veterans, both those living and those deceased. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for dedicated and loyal service to our Nation.  The Eleventh of November each year is the day on which we are supposed to demonstrate to our veterans just how deeply we appreciate the heroic sacrifices that they have made in their lives to keep our Country safe and free.

To memorialize the ending of the “Great War”  —  i.e., World War I  —   an “unknown soldier” was buried in highest place of honor in both the United Kingdom and in the Republic of France. In Great Britain, this hero was buried in the beginning of the center aisle of London’s historic Westminster Abbey, in which all of the Kings and the Queens of Great Britain have been crowned and many British heroes and notables are entombed.  In France, the tomb of this anonymous soldier was erected beneath the great arch of the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs Ėlysées in Paris.  These ceremonies took place on the Eleventh of November celebrating the end of the hostilities of the First World War I eleven o’clock in the morning of 11 November 1918  —  i.e., the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.  This day became known around the world as “Armistice Day.”

In 1921, the United States of America followed this good example of France and the United Kingdom by laying to rest the remains of an anonymous  American soldier who was killed in World War I  —  his name “known but to God”  —  on a Virginia hillside overlooking the City of Washington, D.C. and the Potomac River.  This site became known as the “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,” and today is referred to as the “Tomb of the Unknowns.”  Located in Arlington National Cemetery, the tomb symbolizes the dignity and the reverence that is rightly owed to our American veterans.  In our Nation, the Eleventh of November officially became known as “Armistice Day” through an Act of the Congress of the United States in 1926.  It was twelve (12) years later, through subsequent Congressional action, that “Armistice Day” became a national holiday.

All the peoples of the Earth hoped that World War I was the “War to End All Wars.”  Had this dream become a reality, the holiday might still be called “Armistice Day” to this very day.  That vision and desire was shattered in 1939 when World War II erupted in Europe.  More than four hundred thousand (400,000) American military service personnel perished during that gruesome conflagration.

In 1947, an everyday citizen by the name of Raymond Weeks, a resident of the City of Birmingham in the State of Alabama, organized a “Veterans Day” parade on the Eleventh of November in order to pay tribute to all of America’s veterans for their loyal and dedicated service to our Country.  Shortly thereafter, Congressman Edward H. Rees of Kansas introduced legislation in the United States House of Representatives in order to change the name of “Armistice Day” to “Veterans Day” so that ALL veterans who had served the Armed Forces of the United States in all wars would be heralded.

In 1954, President Dwight David Eisenhower, who had served as the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe during World War II and who had led the famous D-Day invasion of Nazi Europe, signed into law a bill proclaiming the Eleventh of November as “Veterans Day,” He challenged his fellow Americans everywhere to rededicate themselves to the cause of peace.  He likewise issued a Presidential Executive Order directing the head of the United States Veterans Administration  —  now known as the Department of Veterans Affairs  —  to form a Veterans Day National Committee in order to organize and to oversee the national observance of Veterans Day.  The Congress passed legislation in 1968 to move Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October.  However as it became apparent that the precise date of the Eleventh of November was of historical and profound significance to so many Americans, the Congress of the United States in 1978 reversed itself and returned the poignant holiday to its traditional November 11TH date.

Accordingly, Veterans Day is always observed on the Eleventh of November, regardless of the day of the week on which it falls.  The Veterans Day National Ceremony is always held on Veterans Day itself, even if the holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday.  At exactly eleven o’clock in the morning every Eleventh of November, a color guard, comprised of members from each of the branches of the Armed Forces, renders honor to America’s war dead during a heart-moving ceremony at the “Tomb of the Unknowns” in Arlington National Cemetery.  The President of the United States or his representative places a wreath at the Tomb and a bugler sounds the heartrending notes of TAPS.   The remainder of the ceremony, including a “Parade of Flags” by numerous representatives of various national veterans service organizations, takes place inside the Memorial Amphitheater, adjacent to the Tomb.

Our Nation’s newest generation of veterans  —  the two million (2,000,000) American men and women who served honorably in the conflicts in Iraq and in Afghanistan  —  is eagerly searching for meaningful civilian work.  In this Year of Our Lord 2014, those of us who were protected by their bravery and served by their commitment should make certain that these veterans get the consideration that they so richly deserve and have rightfully earned.

Contemporary statistics demonstrated that post-9/11 veterans, ages twenty (20) to twenty-four (24) are eighty-one percent (81%) more likely to be unemployed than their non-veteran peers, and those ages twenty-five (25)  o twenty-nine (29) are seventy-one percent (71%) more likely to be in need of a job.  This situation is particularly frustrating because veterans make great employees.  Veterans bring a long list of virtues to the workplace, including leadership ability, a strong sense of teamwork, loyalty, and initiative.  These qualities are borne out in their performance in the workplace.  Recently studies attest to the fact that those veterans are more likely to stay at a company and that they deliver four percent (4%) greater productivity than their non-veteran peers.

While some leaders in the business community have stepped up to the plate in the cause of employing our newest veterans, many more, in enterprises  —  large, medium-sized, and small  —  need to get in the game.  Our veterans need more than an occasional thanks for their honorable service on our behalf.  Our Nations owes them the opportunity to add their exceptional skills and individual characteristics to the national workforce.  It’s in America’s interest to employ her veterans.  Doing so will make her neighborhoods more vibrant and her economy more competitive and dynamic.  It will also demonstrate to those considering enlisting in the Armed Forces that military service can be an excellent step in and boost to one’s career.  Wouldn’t it be outstandingly appropriate if, a year hence on Veterans Day 2015, we celebrated not just the exemplary service that our veterans have given on the battlefield but also their growing contribution to our economic well-being.  They did the job of defending us when it was given to them, a job that fewer and fewer aspire to do.  Now, let’s let us present them with a job that honors their service and upholds their dignity.

Until next time, that is it for this time.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email