Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day in Greenville

"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…" - President Wilson upon proclaiming November 11th as Armistice Day in November of 1919

Although the end of World War II only came with the Treaty of Versailles on June 28th of 1919, November 11th is generally considered as the end of the war, as the armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. On June 1st, 1954, after WWII and the Korean War, Armistice Day became a day to honor American veterans of all wars, not just the first World War.

While living in France, Veterans Day coincided with our visit to Normandy one year. I was pregnant with Mikus, and Lauris was too young to understand the meaning of the memorials and cemeteries we visited. Last year we talked also about Lāčplēša diena, the Latvian commemorative holiday marking the anniversary of the Latvian national army's victory 94 years ago today, but it was still too soon. This year, coming soon on the heels of a visit to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island (while I was viewing Frank Lloyd Wright’s Auldbrass Plantation), once again the topic of Veterans Day was brought up, this time at the Greenville County Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Lauris seemed to understand the concept of a memorial this time, although I believe there will be more questions in the coming days.

Located in Cleveland Park just south of the Greenville Zoo, the memorial reminds me a little of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC, which Lauris and I visited last year around this time. Adjacent are several more plaques and stones: one in honor of those who served in Grenada, Lebanon, Panama and the Persian Gulf, another dedicated to veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, a bench commemorating 63rd Troop Carrier Wing (H) and a Garden Club tribute to the Armed Forces of America.

Set near an often-used hiking/biking trail, just next to a quiet brook and mini-park, I am sure hundreds will pass by this Veterans Day weekend. I wish for all to have the chance to reflect on the sacrifices by our veterans and those defending our country and way of life, as well as the sacrifices of the families of our soldiers and veterans. Thank you - not only on this day of commemoration, but every day; may we prove ourselves worthy of your sacrifice.

-There will be a wreath laying and flag retirement ceremony at the memorial at 1pm today, for those in the Greenville area.
-An article published in the Fayetteville Observer detailing one Latvians military career: From Latvia to Fort Bragg, Charles Brigis had a remarkable military career. According to his grandson, the report omits "that he was a champion US marksman for the International Force in occupied Austria, (that he) found (his) son in Europe after believing he was dead, (and that he) earned a second Purple Heart in Vietnam."
-This educational infographic helps explain the significance of Lāčplēša diena and the events leading up to it: What is Lāčplēša diena?

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