Thanks for Your Service

Bethany McFerrin: Veteran's Day Thank You

One of the participants in the LifeWorks program completed this article as part of a Work Skills Assessment, and was published in the WV Daily News.  Congratulations, Bethany!

We all consider November 11th a day to commemorate and celebrate the Veterans of this country.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, it was first established in 1919 as Armistice Day, to recognize the soldiers that fought in World War I.  It wasn’t until 1938 that Armistice Day was established as a legal holiday.  Sixteen years later, in 1954, the holiday was changed to include all branches of the military and all veterans to be celebrated.  It was also changed from Armistice Day to what we know as Veteran’s Day.

We all know someone who has either served in the military or sacrificed their life for this country.  Captain Jimmy King II is one local veteran from Crawley, who has served in the military for over 21 years.  The youngest of five children, he was influenced by his father and grandfather, who were also in the military.  He recalls joining the military because he thought it was “cool,” and he was following suit with his friends.

King knew that he was going to be called to active duty when he saw the Twin Towers fall.  He just didn’t know when, but eventually he was sent to serve in Afghanistan.

“It gave me a larger perspective of how the world interacts, how people and cultures of other countries react to the United States,” King said of his experience in Afghanistan.

“When a soldier was killed in action, they would line the streets and pay their last respects before the body was shipped back home to the United States for burial.”

King emphasized that his experience in Afghanistan was eye opening and he realized that there was nothing more important than family.

“It is an honor and privilege to serve in the most powerful military in the world,” King said, never regretting his decision to enlist. “I represent those who have fought and died before me and protect those who cannot protect themselves.”

King affirmed that he would stay in the military as long as he was able and would deploy again if the need arose.

When King was growing up, he remembers Veteran’s Day as a holiday to honor those who fought and died for our country, such as his father, grandfather, uncles and cousins who had served in the military.

Honoring the families of veterans is just as important because they are sacrificing just as much. When their loved one deploys, they stay behind and keep going, not knowing the outcome. When a veteran returns home, they have to reconfigure their place in the family.

King maintained everyone who joins the military is giving “an open-ended commitment to protect and serve, even if they do not realize this when they enlist.”

Perhaps not everyone feels that Veteran’s Day should be celebrated in the same way, but all should commit to honoring those who have sacrificed for our freedom.

Veteran’s Day has a long history, but what it originally stood for is still true today – to honor those who have served and especially those who have fallen for our country. When you see a veteran, you should shake his or her hand and thank them for their service.

-Bethany McFerrin