Santa Monica is a peacenik playground. We have (for the moment) the Paul Conrad statue “Chain Reaction” that stands as a reminder of the horrendous effects of nuclear arms, and we have the ever vocal Jerry PeaceActivist (is that one word or two?) Rubin to provide us with bumper stickers of protest and a free peace symbol hand stamp if you need one.
But as much as we like to proclaim our anti-war positions, we also like to remember that the men and women who serve in the armed forces are not the policy makers. They represent the front line, and they are the ones who suffer the deprivations of war and service. Whether they served in the Great War, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq (I and II), Afghanistan or any of the numerous “humanitarian” efforts we have put on as a country, the men and women who served should be recognized for their contributions.
Honoring the dead has long been a tradition in humanity. It is done for two main reasons, to thank those who gave their lives, but also to encourage those who would serve with the knowledge that should they die, they would be remembered as well.
At the end of World War I, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Armistice Day for Nov.11, 1919. In proclaiming the holiday, he said:
“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.”
But that was not enough. For so many had served then, and in the following World War who deserved to be honored, that in 1954 then President and retired Gen. Dwight Eisenhower signed into law the transformation of Armistice Day into Veterans Day, which honors all veterans both living and dead.
Sadly, Veterans Day is not a huge holiday. It gets none of the buildup and pomp of Memorial Day. It has none of the camaraderie of Labor Day. Its meaning outshines that of St. Patrick’s Day, but gets almost none of the marketing impact. There are not enough events on that day.
The VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System and the Fisher House Foundation are putting on a concert with Sugar Ray and a free BBQ for vets and their families. Louis Gossett Jr., best known for his Academy Award-winning role as Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley in the 1982 film “An Officer and a Gentleman,” will be the master of ceremonies. For more information or to reserve tickets, visit greaterlafisherhouse.org or call (310) 478-3711, ext. 42441. For directions, visit: losangeles.va.gov.
I’d like to suggest that those who are veterans and their families take advantage of this opportunity to enjoy a good meal, listen to some fun music and get a small token of a thank you for a job well done. I’m not a vet. I don’t even have a living veteran in my family, but I think this year, to honor my father who served in the Navy, and is buried in the National Cemetery in Westwood, I’ll take a vet out to dinner and say thanks.
Considering the silly holidays we do celebrate, like National Bosses Day, and National Pie Day (Honestly, who can’t love that one!) why not make an effort and take a veteran you don’t know well out to lunch or dinner and say “Thank You.”
It would be great if there were a restaurant in town that offered a “Take a Veteran To Dinner” discount, I’d be sure to write them up in my column. But discount or no, I’ll still be thanking someone this Veterans Day.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles divorce and child custody lawyer specializing in father’s and men’s rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra.