This past Thursday, November 11th, was a very special day in our country…the annual commemoration of Veteran’s Day! This is a day to remember all those who have given their lives in the service of our country, and also to thank those men and women who sacrificed so much for our rights and freedoms. We not only remember those deceased members of the armed forces who never returned home from combat, but also focus on the ongoing needs of veterans when they do return home. Many of our fighting men and women are in need of tremendous support when they return to civilian life and Veteran’s Day is a reminder to support many of the charities and organizations that benefit them.
Veteran’s Day began, at least in the United States, as Armistice Day…a day commemorating the end of World War I. On the eleventh day of the eleventh month, at the eleventh hour, the Great War came to an end and peace was restored to the countries of Europe. Although a second, more terrible war would begin a little over 20 years later, Veteran’s Day marked the end of this terrible conflict. For the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth of Nations (including Canada), this day is known as Remembrance Day, and is often accompanied by the wearing of red poppies as a commemoration of the dead. Although the United States suffered a great deal during World War I, the devastation was far more extreme among our allies, especially the British and their overseas territories.
Along with Veteran’s Day, November 11th also marks the feast day of my patron saint…Saint Martin of Tours. As a patron saint of soldiers, it is very fitting that the end of World War I should fall on the feast day of St. Martin of Tours, who was a Roman soldier himself, before giving up military life in order to dedicate his efforts to following Christ. St. Martin then began an early form of monastic life and was eventually made bishop of the city of Tours in France. Although his feast day, like Veteran’s Day, has passed, we ought to never forget the powerful role of the saints and how much they help us in our day to day lives.
St. Martin of Tours…pray for us!
~Fr. Martin Gallagher