Veterans Day is worth celebrating

Veterans Day is worth celebrating

Dear American Legion Family and Friends,

Without the solemnity of Memorial Day, Veterans Day is more like Christmas for The American Legion. It’s a time of celebration. It’s a day when Americans everywhere should acknowledge the service of the millions of men and women who served in the U.S. Armed Forces since our nation’s founding in 1776.

While war is nothing to celebrate, Veterans Day is observed on Nov. 11 in recognition of the 1918 armistice ending World War I. It was a day worth celebrating for many reasons but perhaps best described 44 years later in General Douglas MacArthur’s speech to cadets at the U.S. Military Academy. “The soldier above all other people prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war. But always in our ears ring the ominous words of Plato, that wisest of all philosophers: ‘Only the dead have seen the end of war.’”

The fact is that the war continues for far too many veterans long after they have left the battlefield. Derek W. Redmon, 33, served two tours in Afghanistan. He was also a volunteer firefighter in North Carolina and later in his home state of Indiana.  On Jan. 21, 2022, Derek died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He had a wife and two children.

“We just talked the day before,” his father, Charles Redmon recalled. “We were going to go to a Colts-Raiders game and deer hunting. But I still missed some of the signs.”

Charles himself is a veteran of the 82nd Airborne and a member of American Legion Post 321 in Yorktown, Ind. Among the signs Charles said he missed is Derek’s reference to himself in past tense and phrases such as “when I’m gone.” His son was not the same after he returned from combat, Charles said.

“He saw some stuff that he shouldn’t. It messed up his marriage. He lost some friends,” Charles said.

As much as we celebrate our veterans, instead of thanking them for their service it could be more impactful to ask them how they are doing.  “Just make a phone call, text message them, run by their home. Say, you ‘haven’t seen them in a while, let’s go down to the Legion post.’ These conversations may save somebody’s life,” Charles said.

We should continue to celebrate the lives of the men and women who served and are currently serving. They defended our freedom and that’s what we do on Veterans Day. But too often these lives meet tragic ends. For families like the Redmons, Christmases will never be the same.

Let’s Be the One to support veterans, honor their service and stop veteran suicide.

Vincent J. “Jim” Troiola

National Commander