American soldiers today are more likely to be involved in peace-keeping actions than a war. Marines preparing for Bosnia may be trying to define their mission. The duty will be hazardous. The pressure to perform well will be heightened by intense media coverage and international second-guessing. Today, Veterans Day, recognizes the near-impossible task that generation after generation of soldiers have faced.
Veterans Day began in the United States, Great Britain and France at the end of World War I, Nov. 11, 1918, and was called Armistice Day. After World War II, the United States designated the day to honor those who served in that war, as well. In 1954, after the Korean War, Veterans Day was set aside to honor veterans of all U.S. wars.
Maine can especially honor vets from the Korean War this day because of the immense efforts of the Maine Korean War Veterans, which unveiled in July a fitting monument to their 233 Maine comrades who fell in battle. The pagoda-style monument sits proudly in Mt. Hope Cemetery in Bangor. It took 42 years both here and in Washington to properly pay tribute to these soldiers. Now there is a special place to recall the sacrifices they made.
The country must not forget its veterans, not only because of their service but because they are the embodiment of what may be sacrificed in war and what can be achieved. If the nation is to know about war, not in the textbook or political sense but directly, from pain and blood and valor and fear, it must learn from those who were there. It is these teachers of war that the nation honors today.