November 10, 1775, and the eleventh hour of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month. Two significant days with deep meaning for me. The first is the birthday of the United States Marine Corps founded at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The second date was the end of World War I. Originally commemorated as Armistice Day, but now known as Veteran’s Day. Both days have tremendous significance for me as I am a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Marine Corps. You may be wondering how I came to serve in two branches, but that story is for another time.
I will begin with November 11 and why the day means so much to me beyond my time in the military. Our family history on both my father and mother’s side is rife with military service extending back to the American Revolution. During the War for Independence, my ancestors served in New Jersey and Pennsylvania regiments, and a few were also privateers attacking British shipping interests in the waters surrounding New Jersey.
During the Civil War, we had ancestors who served and fought with four different New Jersey infantry regiments. In World War I, our relatives fought the Germans. Family members served during World War II and my Uncle Cliff went ashore in Normandy on June 7, 1944; the day after the initial D-Day landings. My dad and Uncle Kent enlisted when the Korean War broke out in 1950, and Uncle Kent remained in the military for a career, which included service during the Vietnam War. My brother and I served, my nephews are in the military, and one of my sons-in-law is career Air Force.
Our family has served in the Marine Corps, Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Does this make me better than anyone else? No, it does not, but it underscores the fact that Veteran’s Day has deep meaning for me because I understand the sacrifices involved in military service.
Our family members, along with thousands of others before and after us signed our names on a blank line, swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and then went to whatever assignment the military had for us. Some served stateside, some served overseas, some were in combat zones, and others like me served during the Cold War where the shots fired were verbal between the United States and her enemies.