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Veteran’s Day: Honoring the Forgotten Hope of 11-11

I cried as I prepared to write today’s post. It rekindled some painful memories. However, proceeding to write this renewed my faith and hope. I hope reading it has the same effect for you.

Today is November 11, Veteran’s Day in the United States. It is a little more somber and poignant this year as our Nation continues to battle in a “war on terrorism” and attempts to recover from last week’s tragedy at Fort Hood when one man (a psychiatrist) engaged in his own battle as he allegedly shot down 13 people and physically wounded 42 others, and emotionally wounded so many more.

How does one heal? What can one do?

Last night I heard a quote by Benjamin Franklin that appalled me, “He that lives upon hope will die fasting.” I disagree. Research shows that hope is one of the key ingredients to resiliency and healing. I say it’s the opposite, “He that lives with hope will die fulfilled.”

Of course, I also recognize that hope is only one ingredient. We need direction and action. The obstacle is when our direction and actions are based on reactivity, revenge, fear, and self-deception.

Perhaps that’s what happened November 11, 1919 when Germany begrudgingly signed the armistice agreement that ended World War I (at the 11th hour of on the 11th day of the 11th month). The total number of deaths from that war, The Great War, was considered to have been 8.5 million soldiers, 6 million civilians, and 21 million being wounded (imagine the millions more impacted emotionally and through the generations).

A possible sliver of silver lining from all this destruction (the hope) was the creation of the League of Nations. While it didn’t stay in formation, it’s focus on communicating worldwide about issues that impact global human rights and public health set a precedent for the United Nations.

What does all of this have to do with Veteran’s Day? A few things.

First, because of the armistice agreement, this day was originally called Armistice Day. Ironically, armistice means “a temporary suspension of the warring parties by agreement.” Armistice Day, as its name implies, was only temporary. It was changed to Veteran’s Day in 1954.

While we remember veterans today (living and passed), I want to point out the astronomical number of civilians that have been killed in war (remember that WWI casualties alone totaled approximately 8.5 million soldiers and 6 million civilians). That doesn’t include all of the civilians directly impacted by war.  Today is not so different as civilians are targets of terrorist attacks around the globe.

As a counselor, military brat, and veteran, I feel compelled to express my sympathy and extend loving and healing thoughts to all people worldwide on this day, not just my fellow veterans. In fact, I urge all people to think of this day as a day of peace and to hold the intention of peace throughout time. 

Change happens when we change our foundation. That foundation is created by our intentions and the words we use. Mother Teresa expressed it best when she described that she wouldn’t attend and anti-war protest but she would show up to a pro-peace rally. The original seed of today’s history is based on the hope of worldwide peace. Please don’t forget it—honor the hope of today and the people around you. Namaste.

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