Why do we celebrate Veterans Day?
On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, major hostilities ceased in World War I. At the time, it was simply called “The Great War.” No one could imagine a greater: more than 70 million combatants were mobilized and about 30 million were killed or wounded. By contrast, the Franco-Prussian War that took place 45 years earlier (over much of the same territory) only saw one tenth the number of casualties.
Seven years later Calvin Coolidge issued a proclamation declaring this day a time of national remembrance, and in 1954 President Eisenhower changed it to Veterans Day, honoring all who had served. Since the cataclysm of World War II in which global casualties were perhaps five times higher than those of World War I, the United States has been involved in five major wars and perhaps a dozen smaller conflicts. It’s important to remember why.
Since 1973 military service has been voluntary in this country. Before that, draftees largely manned the military during World Wars I and II and the Cold War conflicts. Because we no longer rely on conscription, many people don’t think much about the military. That is a mistake.
For over two hundred years American freedom and prosperity has been the envy of the world. But freedom isn’t free. A Roman poet said, “If you want peace, prepare for war.” By honoring those who served, we can help keep the world a peaceful place.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer
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