How Veterans Like Me Want Americans To Celebrate Veterans Day

The guns fell silent, one by one, across the Western Front. On this day 102 years ago, the thunderous artillery and the gunfire ceased, leaving only the screams of the wounded, and the final breaths of the dying in the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month.

The Great War ended a century ago, and my time at war ended over four years ago, yet just like those who escaped from the Western Front, for me war has somehow remained.

America set aside a day of remembrance for the men who endured the barbed wire and trenches a century ago, and those who came after, men like me; men whose war quietly lives on as a permanent companion in the back of their minds. It’s a specter whose constant presence quietly fills the room each day and hour with its dark-casting shadow, always there, but never seen.

War is a phantom whose dates and locations have changed across the century, but always leaving the same, identifiable mark upon each man. It’s a family tree whose limbs grow longer, and roots spread deeper, with each generation. Men united not by blood, but by a singular experience.

These are the memories and emotions most of us would rather forget, but never will. The images of mangled corpses and contorted limbs, a veil-clad woman crying out, clutching the lifeless, bloody body of her husband. The emotions of anger, hatred, and deep-cutting sorrow rip open the soul, imparting their mark for eternity.

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