By Calvin E. Johnson Jr.
What does Veterans Day, Friday, November 11, 2011, mean to you? To me it means….
Remembering American Patriots like Thomas Jefferson who said, “A Bill of Rights is what the people are entitled to against every government, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.”
And General George Washington Father of our country who led his troops in prayer before they crossed the Delaware River on a cold-snowy night to surprise the British and Hessian troops on December 26, 1776. They gained a great victory in the worst of conditions.
And teaching our children about Andrew Jackson and a ragtag army who defeated the British at New Orleans in 1815. A young officer named Wade Hampton of South Carolina rode 750 miles in ten days to Columbia, South Carolina, and then to Washington, D.C. to tell President Madison and the country of the great victory.
And not forgetting that during March, 1836, a small band of men at the Alamo stood between Santa Anna’s 5,000 man army and the unprepared small army of Sam Houston. In the lonely monastery were Davy Crocket, Jim Bowie and less than two hundred men. Just three days before Santa Anna’s final assault, these men came into the Alamo, knowing their lives were at great risk.
On their last night on earth the Alamo men prayed that their battle would, somehow, lead to victory even though they would die. Their prayer was answered. A few days later at San Jacinto, Houston defeated Santa Anna with the battle cry of, “Remember the Alamo!”
It’s about remembering the year 1861 when our nation became two nations. The South under President Jefferson Davis and the North under President Abraham Lincoln fought for four long, bloody years to decide our future. Both armies prayed to the same God for guidance. This war has many names but the United States Congress would officially name it “The War Between the States.” Since 1865, the Confederate Battle flag has been the blood brother of the Stars and Stripes as Southerners have taken their place at the front in all our nation’s wars.
And remembering that in February of 1898 the American Battleship Maine blew up in Havana Harbor with nearly 300 dead. The Spanish-American War brought Teddy Roosevelt’s “Roughriders” to Cuba to charge up San Juan Hill to victory. Old Joe Wheeler, an ex-Confederate Cavalry General, was there with him. Wheeler got excited and forgot which war he was in. He shouted, “There they are, go get those Yankees!”
In Greensboro, North Carolina a six-year-old girl named Mary Frances Barker awoke to the shouts of a boy far down the street. It was 5 A.M., November 12, 1918. It was the paper boy shouting, “The War is Over, the war is over!” World War one had finally ended on the 11th day of the 11th hour of the 11th month of November in 1918.
The United States Congress proclaimed “Armistice Day” a year later on November 11, 1919.
Lest We Forget on Sunday, December 7, 1941, the first word of the attack on Pearl Harbor came by radio. Newspapers did run “extras” that Sunday with little information and a lot of fear. This Sunday would become “a day of infamy.” On Monday the 8th President Franklin D. Roosevelt, during a special session of congress, told of the attack and declared war on Japan. His speech was broadcast on the radio.
F.D.R.‘s closing words were: “With the abounded determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph, so help us God!”
Since that time there was Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Desert Storm, Afghanistan and Iraq. We cannot forget they we were attacked again on September 11, 2001.
We have, since World War II, seen prayer taken out of our schools and “Under God” in the pledge of allegiance under attack. Are we still a nation of God as we once were during the times of our founding fathers and mothers? With all that is happening in the world today, it seems like we need God more than ever.
Armistice Day became Veterans Day in 1954. Lest We Forget!