Veterans Day: 24/7, 365

Posted by Kelli McKinney
Tanks and cavalry prepare to move member of the Bonus Army away from the White House in 1932.

Tanks and cavalry prepare to move member of the Bonus Army away from the White House in 1932.

In 1932, thousands of veterans dubbed themselves the Bonus Army and protested in Washington D.C., asking the federal government to pay bonuses they felt they’d earned. As protestors picketed the White House, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt ordered tanks to forcibly remove the veterans from the premises. Two veterans were killed by D.C. police.

FDR’s response to the protestors’ requests in 1933: “No person because he wore a uniform must thereafter be placed in a special class of beneficiaries over and above other citizens.”

What FDR failed to realize then, and what many others fail to realize even these 80 years later, is that veterans were not asking for special treatment. They don’t ask to be worshipped. They just want an equal opportunity, like everyone else, to earn their way after their service has ended. They want to work toward the dream they’ve defended.

Ten years after shamefully turning tanks on U.S. veterans, President Roosevelt signed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1943, otherwise known as the G.I. Bill. The G.I. Bill made it possible for those men and women who put their lives on hold in service of their country to get an education, start a business, or purchase a home. The impact of this bill is still being felt even today, and it is widely considered one of the most successful pieces of legislation in U.S. history.

Holidays like Veterans Day make it easy for us to pay a sincere tribute to our Armed Forces each year. But we need to consider that the freedoms we enjoy each day exist because of those who have served and are serving today. Veterans serve, support and protect us 24/7/365, often without acknowledgement, much less thanks.

November is a time of year when many of us pause to reflect on our blessings. There are currently more than 23 million Veterans in the United States today. Nearly 20 percent of them served during the Gulf War (1990 – present) and more than a third of them served during the Vietnam War (1964-75). Their service is something for which we should all be thankful, each and every day.


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