Veterans Day didn't seem like much of a holiday when I was a kid. I don't remember if we got the day off school or not, but there wasn't much going on anyway. I guess there were parades, but I think they were small and seemed mostly for the veterans themselves. I don't even think my extended family got together for the holiday, and they got together for almost any excuse.
But as an adult I've learned about and gained a greater appreciation for what those old men went through. I better understand what they accomplished and what it meant to them, as well as what it means to me. Most of them don't talk much about their service, and when they do they emphasize that they don't consider themselves heroes - the guys who didn't come home were the real heroes to them.
November 11th has been known as Veterans Day since 1954. Before that it was Armistice Day in honor of the anniversary of the signing of the treaty that ended World War I on November 11, 1918. We now honor all Veterans on this day, but I'd like to especially honor the veterans of WWI by mentioning The War to End All Wars: World War I by Russell Freedman.
This is an excellent little book (just under 200 pages) on a mostly-forgotten yet highly-influential part of history. Freedman covers the causes of the war in text that is easy to understand and is loaded with photographs. True, it is written for young people (grades 6 to 10) but since I knew so little of this war I found it very eye-opening. Freedman not only discusses the war and its major fronts and battles, but highlights the emerging technologies that made this one so horrific, as well as the results of the Versailles Treaty which set up the conditions that enabled Hitler to come to power 20 years later. It's inspired me to seek out more books on this fascinating period of history and I recommend it for young people who may be studying this in school or adults like me who didn't learn it back then. (Note: I received this book from Amazon Vine.)