This Saturday, November 11, will mark the 104th observance of Veterans Day in the United States, a day marked by solemnity and reverence to honor those who have served in our nation’s military. Veteran’s Day initially was known as Armistice Day when it was enacted in 1919 in observance of the first anniversary of the end of World War I, which occurred on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.
World War I was marked by trench warfare in which neither the German-allied nations (Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire) nor the alliance among England, France, Russia, and the United States, accomplished anything. Historians to this day cannot even pinpoint a rational reason for why it began. The trench lines did not meaningfully shift for the entire four-year period of the war. In the meantime, the European continent was ravaged, with 10 million soldiers and another 10 million civilians losing their lives.
More significantly, the “war to end all wars” only set the stage for an even bloodier world-wide conflagration 20 years later with WWII. Indeed, the roots of today’s conflict in the Middle East can be traced to the shift in control of the Middle East after WWI from the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) to England, which eventually led to the so-called British Mandate for Palestine after the end of WWII.
In the aftermath of the Korean War in 1954, Armistice Day officially became known as Veterans Day to include veterans of all of our wars. There are many ways that each of us can honor our veterans, including attending parades and ceremonies in our communities, visiting veterans memorials and cemeteries, volunteering with veterans organizations, donating to veterans causes, flying the U.S. flag, thanking a veteran for their service, or simply taking a moment to reflect on the great sacrifice made by so many who have put their lives on the line to ensure that all of us can enjoy the freedoms that we hold as Americans today.
If nothing else, Veterans Day should remind us that freedom isn’t free and that maintaining our freedom since our nation’s founding has required the personal sacrifice of millions of our fellow Americans.
Happy 90th birthday, Gov. Dukakis
We wish to extend our best wishes for a “Happy Birthday” to former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, who turned 90 last week.
Mike Dukakis served as governor of our state from 1975-79 and then again for two terms from 1983-91. He was the Democratic nominee for President in 1988, losing to Republican George H.W. Bush in a contentious election that was marked by immense distortions of Dukakis’s record, including the infamous Willie Horton ad that invoked racial stereotypes and played to the worst instincts of white voters.
For those too young to know about Mike Dukakis, we will mention three things about a man whose honesty, integrity, competence, and dedication to serving the people of our state stand as the benchmark for all office-holders: First, Gov. Dukakis turned around our state’s economic fortunes with the “Massachusetts Miracle” in which the high-tech and biotech industries set Massachusetts on a path to prosperity that carries through to this day. Second, he reinvigorated our state’s aging inner cities, including Boston, Chelsea, Revere, Everett, and Lynn, and invested in public transportation, which Dukakis himself rode from his home in Brookline to Beacon Hill. Third, he established Massachusetts as a national leader in education, criminal justice reform, drug policy, and countless other areas.
Similar to former President Jimmy Carter, Mike Dukakis has led a low-profile, yet prolific post-government career in which he has continued with his lifetime of dedication to public service. We know we join with all of our fellow citizens in wishing Gov. Dukakis a “Happy Birthday,” and many more to come.