Yesterday people across the United States celebrated Veterans Day, gathering together in cemeteries, schools and clubhouses to honor the people whose sacrifices have made our many freedoms possible.
But much of the rest of the world celebrated the same day under a different name: Armistice Day. Armistice Day, initially meant to honor the veterans of World War I, was later expanded into Veterans Day by the United States to honor all veterans.
Dictionaries define a "veteran" as anyone who has served in the military, but especially one who has served in a war.
But Armistice Day isn’t about war. It’s about peace.
Because veterans understand peace better than anyone else. They have experienced the terror, the confusion and the violence of war and they know that peace isn’t merely the lack of war. It has a meaning of its own to those who have experienced its opposite, to our veterans, who have sacrificed time, safety, blood, limbs, mind, or life for the ideals the United States of America does its best to uphold in every way: freedom, equality, goodness, honor.
These ideals sometimes cost us the peace we hold dear and with it, the lives of some of our best and brightest young people. It is a hard price to pay, but our veterans, and their friends and families have paid it.
On Armistice Day, we honor our veterans not on the day that a war began, but on a day it ended, a day their sacrifices were no longer required: a day of peace.