By Austin Fierley
The holiday known as Veterans Day is a public holiday held on the anniversary of the end of World War I (November 11) to honor US veterans and victims of all wars. It replaced Armistice Day in 1954. For many people such as myself it is a day of reflection of my own military service as well as the family and close friends who are or did serve as well, I also take this day to visit my grandfather’s grave to pray and talk with him.
He served in the marines in Korea before the Vietnam war and once the Vietnam war started he completed three tours in Vietnam as a rifleman, which for those who don’t know is one of the many combat jobs and frontlines positions of the infantry. His bravery and morals are one of the reasons I joined the marines and trained as a rifleman just as he did. When I visit his grave in this day, I spend my time telling him all that’s happened and going on in my life. At the same time, if I am able, I go to the graves of my fallen comrades and reminisce on the memories we shared in the military and before that. I will plant a flag or bring ribbons and place them on each grave and thank them. Many other will practice this same gesture especially if they are family or close relation.
On campus around this holiday, the veterans would set up a table or area with an assortment of photos, fliers, trinkets, personal stories, and information all about Veterans Day and what it means to the world and them. Last year myself and my friend Michael who is also a veteran went around planting stakes with flags attached to them in the ground as well as putting giant yellow ribbons around the trunks of the trees in the interior courtyard of the campus. There would also be times for a memorial service at the flagpole or a veterans luncheon hosted by the school where veterans and supporters would gather and share stories of their services in the military and government, as well as honor all those that we have lost in the many years.
With COVID-19 however, it’s extremely difficult to go to campus and take part in these events, or simply visit national sites and places preserving the memories. They are shut down completely or they are restricted due to the social distancing and unrest in our world today. For this year, it’s a whole new process and many things are or will be done remotely or in splice, such as video presentations or talks. In these times, this is all we can do, and even though it may be difficult now to visit these places, hopefully soon we’ll be able to go back to our normal lives and see the many places and people we haven’t been able to and make up for lost time.