2015-11-11 / Editorials

Forever Indebted To Our Vets

Ninety-seven years ago, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918, the guns, grenades and cannons fell silent. “The War to End All Wars” that began in August 1914 ended. President Woodrow Wilson signed an armistice and the annual observance became known as “Armistice Day” with half the states adopting it as a legal holiday.

We now know that this peace among the world’s powers was not to last. This year happens to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in 1945, which saw tens of millions across continents perish and the unspeakable destruction of cities from Europe to the Far East.

Further conflicts erupted before the 20th century was over, in Korea and in Vietnam. Our brave servicemen answered their draft calls or enlisted. The survivors returned to civilian life taking advantage of the GI Bill to buy homes, while others had years of therapy and hospital stays ahead. In the 1950s, President Eisenhower signed a bill renaming the annual commemoration Veterans Day.

In this century already, our military men and women have served in the Gulf War and conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and have come back home or are still returning. We have seen countless people stop and thank our service-members wherever or whenever they are spotted in uniform around our city. It seems to be the least we can do for them, to honor their service in what is now an all-voluntary military.

This week in Queens, we remember their great sacrifices, and those of their families, with annual parades and ceremonies from Borough Hall in Kew Gardens, to Maspeth’s Grand Avenue; along Metropolitan Avenue from Glendale to Middle Village; at Coleman Square in Howard Beach; and inside the main Bayside campus of Queensborough Community College’s Veterans’ Memorial Grove. Queens is proud to remember them because Queens has the largest number of living veterans in New York City and the third largest in New York state. Sadly, WWII veterans are dying at the rate of 550-plus a day. In spite of that sad statistic, the Gazette often has the opportunity to report on the current activities of our hardy, heroic neighbors, rightly called “The Greatest Generation.”

On this day, please consider taking a walk to visit your local veterans’ memorial, many of which are found in our public parks. In Astoria Park, the WWI Long Island War Memorial has this dedication inscribed on its granite face: “Greater Love Hath No Man Than This: That A Man Lay Down His Life for His Friends.”

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