The True Meaning of Veteran’s Day

When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say, For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today

Inscription on the memorial to the dead of the British 2nd Infantry Division at Kohima.

When I was a boy there was a middle aged man who walked with a pronounced limp around our neighborhood.  The rumor around among the kids of the neighborhood was that he wasn’t right in the head and that he was a drunk.  His face was disfigured and we kids called him gympie, although, mercifully, not to his face.  One day I remarked to my father that we called this man gympie.  My father rarely got angry, but he did on that occasion.  He told me that man was a hero.  He had served in the Army during the Korean War, had been captured by the Chinese and had been tortured by them.  They had broken his right leg repeatedly and had used branding irons on his face.  He never gave in to them and would not tell them anything but his name, rank and serial number.  By the time he was exchanged at the end of the war his health was destroyed and his mind had been shattered by his experiences.  He returned to his home town and was cared for by his parents.  The American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars in town had annual collections for him to supplement his Army pension so he would never be in financial need.  By the end of this recitation I was in tears.  That day taught me the true meaning of Veteran’s Day:  service above self. (more…)

Published in: on November 11, 2014 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  

November 11, 1864: Lincoln Recalls His Memorandum of Defeat



Blind Memorandum


This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this Administration will not be re-elected. Then it will be my duty to so co-operate with the President elect, as to save the Union between the election and the inauguration; as he will have secured his election on such ground that he can not possibly save it afterwards. A. LINCOLN

John Hay, one of Lincoln’s two private secretaries, made the falling diary entry in regard to the cabinet meeting on November 11, 1864, following the re-election of the President:

“At the meeting of the Cabinet today, the President took out a paper from his desk and said, `Gentlemen, do you remember last summer when I asked you all to sign your names to the back of a paper of which I did not show you the inside? This is it. Now, Mr Hay, see if you can get this open without tearing it?’ He had pasted it up in so singular style that it required some cutting to get it open. He then read as follows: [memorandum]

“The President said, `You will remember that this was written at a time (6 days before the Chicago nominating Convention) when as yet we had no adversary, and seemed to have no friends. I then solemnly resolved on the course of action indicated above. I resolved, in case of the election of General McClellan, being certain that he would be the candidate, that I would see him and talk matters over with him. I would say, “General, the election has demonstrated that you are stronger, have more influence with the American people than I. Now let us together, you with your influence and I with all the executive power of the Government, try to save the country. You raise as many troops as you possibly can for this final trial, and I will devote all my energies to assisting and finishing the war.” ‘

“Seward said, `And the General would answer you “Yes, Yes;” and the next day when you saw him again and pressed these views upon him, he would say, “Yes, Yes;” & so on forever, and would have done nothing at all.’

“ `At least,’ added Lincoln, `I should have done my duty and have stood clear before my own conscience.’ . . . .”

The scenario Lincoln said he would have followed would likely have been what actually happened but for military success by the Union armies in the fall of 1864.  On such slender reeds are the fates of nations balanced.

Published in: on November 11, 2014 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on November 11, 1864: Lincoln Recalls His Memorandum of Defeat  
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