FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11: After a decade of war, millions of Americans connected to our U.S. military services celebrate Veterans Day with heart-felt fervor. The irony, this year, is that millions of other Americans seem to be forgetting these wars and their ultimate costs. The Pew Research Center reports that news coverage of the Iraq war reached “a new low in 2011,” with a chart of the news coverage that looks like the end of a roller-coaster ride.
Honoring men and women who have served our country—in the shared hope that we might actually end wars someday—is a noble idea that dates to the origins of this Nov. 11 observance at the close of World War I. Here’s an overview of the history of this Nov. 11 observance, once known as Armistice Day. More than that, among religious groups nationwide, our nation’s millions of veterans need help for a wide range of lingering issues in their lives. Even some noted peace activists within religious groups now are urging a greater awareness of the needs of veterans’ families nationwide. President Obama’s official White House 2011 Veterans Day declaration touches on this theme: “To honor their contributions to our nation, let us strive with renewed determination to keep the promises we have made to all who have answered our country’s call.”
Observe Veterans Day all week
The Deparmtent of Veterans Affairs provides this state-by-state listing of official VA events at cemeteries. And, there also is this state-by-state listing of regional events, including parades.
Don’t miss events: Check local calendars this year! In many towns, Veterans “Day” events are happening throughout the week. For example, in the tiny village of Orion in nothwest Illinois, the big veterans gathering is a community-wide oyster-stew-and-chili supper on Tuesday, November 8.
‘Where Soldiers Come From’ Airs on PBS
Don’t miss this on PBS: “Where Soldiers Come From” brings veterans’ experiences vividly to life. Read our story about this November 10 film.
And, on Extreme Makeover: The U.S. Defense Department recommends a special episode of ABC’s popular home-improvement show, Extreme Makeover. Here is the DoD overview. And here is the ABC network website.
Join John Philip Newell in Chanting for Peace on 11-11-11
ReadTheSpirit often has featured stories about popular Celtic writer John Philip Newell. This year, John Philip is transforming his regular teaching schedule across the U.S. to focus on religiously diverse gatherings where people join to pray for peace. On 11-11-11, the way that John Philip refers to the historic Armistice Day, he will be in Austin, Texas. Anyone in Texas, this week, is welcome to stop by and chant along with this gathering—or you can simply pause wherever you are to pray along with John Philip’s movement.
In a column for Huffington Post, John Philip described this effort: “On 11/11/11, Armistice Day, people from different ethnic groups and religions will gather together to chant for peace at All Saints Episcopal Church in Austin, Texas. The armistice that ended the hostilities of World War I was signed on Nov. 11, 1918. We need a new end of hostilities in the world today. Libya needs it. We need it. Every nation, every community, every family on earth needs it. I invite you to join in this offering of prayer for peace, wherever you may be.”
Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.