In 1918, on the 11th day of the 11th month at the eleventh hour, the Allies and Germany signed the armistice that brought an end to the hostilities on the Western Front and marked the end of fighting in World War I. The war officially ended on June 28, 1919 with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.
In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first Armistice Day to remember those who were killed during the war. People around the world took time out of their day, each November 11th, to recognize those members of their armed forces who died during the war. In 1938, Armistice Day was made an official U.S. holiday as “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day’.” Years later, new legislation changed the name to Veterans Day and it became a day to remember all of the men and women who have served our nation in the Armed Forces, not just those who died.
Veterans Day is a day to thank and honor all of the men and women who have served in our nation’s military, during peacetime and war. It is a day to acknowledge that their contributions to our nation are appreciated and the sacrifices they made to serve their country did not go unnoticed.
Every Veterans Day I think about the men and women in my own family who served our nation proudly.
My father, Robert Barrett, was 17 when he joined the U.S. Navy to serve during the Korean War. The image to the right is dated July 5, 1950 and was taken at the U.S. Navy Training Center in San Diego, California. He doesn’t talk much about his time in the Navy, but he does spout out a few Japanese phrases from time to time, which he learned while serving in the Pacific. I know he had a great time seeing the world, even if it was during a time of war, and serving his country is a vital part of who he is today. After the war, he continued to serve his nation honorably, but not in the Armed Forces. He went on to become a police officer and spent his career protecting the public and keeping the streets safe for everyone.
On November 9, 1917, my great-grandfather, Floyd S. Hirsch, accepted appointment as 2nd Lieutenant in the Russian Railway Service Corps, which had been organized under the authority of President Woodrow Wilson. During his tour in Russia he was stationed at various times in Omask, Tomsk, and Vladivostok. He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant on October 13th, 1919. He was a railroad man his whole life. In fact, prior to serving in the RRSC, he traveled to Panama to work for the Panama Railroad Company as an Operator during the construction of the Panama Canal. Years later he was a Chief Dispatcher for the Union Pacific Railroad in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
James Strother Moore enlisted in the Army on January 30, 1943 and served as a member of the Army Air Forces. I’m not sure what role he played, or much else about his military career. In fact, all I know is shown in the photo to the right. I don’t have any other memories of him, although he died just before my 6th birthday.
His nickname was “Pete”. Why they called him that, I don’t know. He was my grandmother’s second husband, and he adopted my mom and her sister in August of 1950. While I have no memory of him, my mother’s eyes seem to light up when she talks about her “daddy”, and I am proud to call him my grandfather.
My grandmother’s third husband, Thomas Chilimpis, is the man I knew as Papa. He is the only grandfather I knew, and I treasure every memory I have of him. He was one of four children. He had two sisters and a twin brother. The photograph to the left was taken after all four of them enlisted during World War II.
Thomas enlisted in the Army while his brother Milton joined the Navy. Their sister Bess became a member of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC), and their sister Minerva signed up for the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES).
Like all of the other veterans across the United States, my relatives stepped up when needed and helped to make this country what it is today. I thank them and all of the other veterans who have served our great nation. They have have my utmost respect and my whole-hearted appreciation for their service.
Without our veterans there would be no United States of America.