I know, I know…It is Veterans Day now. Forgive me, my kids call me old, so I’m sticking with Armistice Day.
As the writer of a book set in the 1920’s, it would have been impossible to do an authentic job of setting the scene without some research into World War I and the plight of veterans returning from Europe. In hindsight, it is easy to see how woefully unprepared our government was to care for and assist the flood of men who came home. The lingering effects of trench and gas warfare haunted many for the rest of their days. Unable to maintain steady work, a good few vets languished in abject poverty long before the Great Depression. Fortunately for us, many of the benefits we veterans enjoy today came from public outcry and government action in the decade after WW I.
At my kitchen table last night, I asked my kids if any of them knew the origin of Veterans Day. We sat in a long period of unknowing silence, or maybe reluctance to engage with the old man on a favorite topic, who knows which. My wife and I don’t allow electronics at the table, so the blank stares from the teenage contingent could have been due to the fact that they wanted to get back to their social media (just to embarrass them, I like to call it “The Facetube”). They were rescued by their eleven year-old sister who gave a detailed and accurate history of the ending of WW I, Armistice Day, and its change to Veterans Day in the 1950’s. Thank you Perimeter Christian School for your fine teaching on this subject!
The town of Portsong would joyfully celebrate Veterans Day. As a patriotic place, there would be flags, ribbons, parades, and special honors bestowed by the Ladies Historical Society. Although not a veteran himself, Mayor Shambley would never miss the opportunity to stand in a lectern. Daniel Jacobs, Abel Lowder, Rif Jenkins, the Pinkerton boys, and all the rest would set to march down Chestnut and Main in whatever semblance of uniform moths and time had not yet destroyed. Yes, Portsong has always loved its fighting boys through many wars.
I leave my thoughts on Veterans Day with a picture of my grandfather in his Doughboy uniform from World War I. I do not believe he saw action, as he volunteered just a month before the war ended. My maternal grandfather served in the Navy during the World War II era and I did my stint in the Army in peacetime.
From the heart of our little town of Portsong, thank you to all you veterans out there.