Marine: Veterans Day Honors The Past, Looks To The Future
Veterans who loaded carbines and veterans who download on computers gathered with their families and friends to honor themselves, each other and their country on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
Casper native and Marine Lt. Col. Fred Catchpole recognized them with an eye to the future.
"If we expect a strong, disciplined and talented all-volunteer force in the future, we must lay the foundations today, for the challenges our nation face today and tomorrow require that we recruit, retrain and keep the best and brightest of our nation," Catchpole told a stand-room-only crowd at the Oregon Trail State Veterans Cemetery in Evansville on Friday.
The threats come from nation-states, terror and the world wide web, and the young soldiers, sailors, pilots and Marines will be the ones to face them, he said.
"Our current and future veterans have to be able to fight a major war on traditional battlefields, fight cyberthreats in the the dark web, engage terror threats in hostile locations overseas, aid victims of natural disasters, and build capacity in partner nations around the globe," Catchpole said.
"Our future veterans need to be able to do all of this, and they may be required to do it all in a four-year enlistment," he said.
The holiday began during World War I, speaker Ted Hedges said.
In 1917, the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks fraternal organization set up a war relief fund for two hospitals on the battlefields in France. After the war, it built a 700-bed hospital for veterans in Boston and turned it over to the federal government.
The Elks also had a connection to Elk and Gen. John Pershing, who set the time and date for the formal end of the war, Hedges said. The number 11 is significant for Elks because that is the hour they stop during their social functions to remember their fellow Elks who had died, he said.
"In recognition, Pershing selected the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month as the effective time of the Armistice," Hedges said. "This was his salute to the memory of those soldiers, both Elks and their comrades-in-arms, during the long and brutal conflict."
America continued to honor the holiday known as Armistice Day. But the memory of those who served in World War I faded, so Congress changed the name of the holiday to Veterans Day in 1954 to honor all who served in the armed forces, he said.