Veterans Day: What’s the holiday all about?

What is it that we are celebrating or commemorating when we observe Veterans Day? Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor all who have served, living or deceased, but in particular the living veterans among us.

In contrast, Memorial Day specifically commemorates the men and women who died while serving our country. Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day in the United States, commemorating the signing of the agreement that ended World War 1 at 11a.m., Nov. 11, 1918. President Woodrow Wilson celebrated the first Armistice Day in 1919. 

My favorite movie is “The Pianist” (2002) directed by Roman Polanski.  It is a story about a Polish-Jewish radio station pianist, Wladyslaw Szpilman (played by Adrien Brody), who survives the ordeals of  World War 2 in Warsaw, Poland. Adrien Brody starved himself to 130 pounds to portray the role of a victim of war in Polanski’s film.  In an interview by GQ Magazine, Adrien Brody describes his process and experience. Brody said, “I wanted to show a transition from Szpilman’s lowest point, after being in hiding and not eating, so that- you can’t act emaciated.  You have to become emaciated.  And that was a technical process that led to a discovery about the hollowness and emptiness, that one feels when you are literally deprived of sufficient nutrition. Then the physical metamorphosis affects your self-esteem, and your energy levels, and your will power, and your strength.” Brody added that The effects of war include long-term physical and psychological harm to children and adults.” 

The official journal of the World Psychological Association, World Psychiatry, published research on the mental health consequences of war. The authors wrote, “As happened in the first half of the 20th century, when war gave a big push to the developing concepts of mental health, the study of the psychological consequences of the wars of the current century could add new understandings and solutions to mental health problems of general populations.” 

Veterans Day is a day of reckoning.  What is the cost of war?  It is a time to remind ourselves that we can do our part to heal society. If you know someone in need or want to help, you do not have to look far. As the only food pantry in Radnor Township, Wayne Church, A United Methodist Community accepts non-expired, non-perishable items as well as monetary donations. They can be reached at: (610)688-5650 or via email at learnmore@wayneumc.org. Sources:  https://www.almanac.com/veterans-day, https://youtu.be/WUzeOF_QTWY, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1472271/, wayneumc.org/food-pantry/

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