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Monday, Nov. 11, is Veterans Day. The United States’ memorial holiday of Veterans Day is also known as Remembrance Day or Armistice Day in the British Commonwealth and our other allies from World War I.

During the Crimean War's Battle of Balaclava on Oct. 25, 1854, the British Army's light cavalry brigade under command of Lord Cardigan was ordered to pursue a retreating Russian artillery battery near the front lines, but due to a miscommunication, the brigade was instead sent on a frontal assault into a well-defended battery across the field and suffered major casualties in the attack and retreat. The charge was the subject of the poem 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' by Lord Alfred Tennyson, published six weeks later.In 1918, after four years of seemingly endless trench warfare in Europe, the Central Powers and the Entente Powers, which included the United States, agreed to a series of armistices that effectively ended the Great War.

The armistice formally ended hostilities at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. The German, Ottoman, Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires had all collapsed from internal pressures brought on by the war and millions of civilians and soldiers were dead or missing.

Many believed at the time that the devastation of the war would make any other major worldwide conflict unthinkable.

Of course, that was not the case, and the major powers of the world plunged into another great struggle two decades later, prompting historians to rename the Great War as merely World War I.

The United States has gone to war over the last century because of geopolitical alliances, and to fight the threats of fascism, totalitarianism, communism and now terrorism.

Managing Editor Christopher Fox GrahamRegardless of the reason, the location, the cause or the goal, our soldiers are sent into harm’s way to protect our nation’s interests and our way of life.

British poet laureate Lord Alfred Tennyson best summed up the soldier’s duty in his 1854 poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade”: “Theirs not to make reply, theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die.”

Whether factions of our society approve of a war or the leaders who declare or wage one, our soldiers are the ones on the front lines and their service is irrelevant to politics. Our soldiers serve their country and while many return as war-weary veterans, others return home with scars, visible or not, and many others make the ultimate sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

We civilians owe a duty to those who fought on our behalf. Rather than merely thanking a veteran for their service, our duty is to repay theirs in kind: Offering good jobs to veterans returning to civilian life, helping them treat post-traumatic stress disorder and making sure veterans hospitals are efficient and well-funded.

Remember the service and honor of our veterans on Monday, Nov. 11. They did their duty, now we must do ours.

Christopher Fox Graham

Managing Editor

 


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