Monday, November 11th is Veterans Day. Many in America will get Monday the 12th off work, but Sunday is the day we honor the bravery of America's Veterans.
Veterans Day came about after World War I, or as some call it The Great War. While World War I officially ended on June 28th, 1919, the actual armistice went into effect at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. Hence the observance of Veterans Day on November 11th.
Veterans Day actually started as Armistice Day in November of 1919, by a proclamation from President Woodrow Wilson. It wasn't until 1954 that Armistice Day became Veterans Day honoring Veterans of all wars.
I have personally known veterans of 2 wars. I was a great friend of a man who fought in World War II. Eddie Toti was an unbelievable gentleman. We bowled together on a league. I was in my 40's and he was in his 70's.
Eddie went to Northwestern University back when the war broke out. One day after an economics class, every guy in the class went and enlisted together. They just decided as a group that it was time to go enlist, and every single one of them did it.
I imagine it is because of stories like these that Eddie's generation is now called America's Greatest Generation. Well, I can say that Eddie was a great guy, fun to be around, and as humble a man as I have ever met. Eddie earned 2 Bronze Stars and 2 Purple Hearts in World War II.
I am friends with a Vietnam Vet named Jeff Miller as well. He enlisted right out of high school, and served 2 tours in Vietnam. I met Jeff when I was in my early 20's. I had been hired on at a tool and die shop, and Jeff took me under his wing.
He was quick with the practical joke back in those days, and has a sense of humor that one has to experience to appreciate. He is a great guy, and when I call him on Veterans day, he will say the same thing he says every single year. "I knew you were going to call me today." It has become a ritual, and we are both good with that.
My newest friend is a little different. I met SFC (ret) Michael Schlitz on Twitter of all places. We then became facebook friends. We are not friends in any traditional kind of way. A written word here, or a "like" there. Truth be told, if you were to mention my name to him, he would not recognize it. That is a good thing though. It means that he has so many others who support him, and who he supports that his life is filled with countless good American's.
Ranger Schlitz is one of our Wounded Warriors, who you can't keep down. He volunteers at GallantFew, which is a non-profit organization that helps our returning Veterans cope with their new realities after returning home. Ranger Schlitz will be with Gary Sinise and some friends today, and they will be ringing the closing bell on Wall Street.
So, at the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month of 2012, I will give my buddy Jeff Miller a call, and we'll tell a few lies, and have a few laughs. I'll also think about my friend Eddie, and smile, and I'll also send a "Thank You for your service to our great nation" message to Ranger Schlitz on Facebook, and as always, he'll make time to thank me for that.
It's a funny thing when you think about it. Whenever you shake a Veteran's hand, and thank them for their service to our country, they never say "You're Welcome."
They always say "Thank You" right back...