“Veterans Day isn’t about the sales at the mall, or having the day off from work and school. It’s about honoring the men and women, past and present, who have served their country. To those who can come back home to their families and to those who made the ultimate sacrifice but will never be forgotten.”
In many countries, November 11 is set aside as a day for remembering and honoring those who have dedicated their lives to military service for their country. The date stems from the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918—the end of World War I.
In the United States, November 11th marks Veterans Day, a federal holiday. Declared as an observance by President Woodrow Wilson at the end of in 1919, it was officially expanded in 1954 to honor all servicemembers. Ceremonies take place across the country, and President Obama led the ceremony at Arlington National Ceremony honoring all veterans, including the oldest known surviving veteran of WWII.
In the UK and other Commonwealth countries, the day is known as Remembrance Day. Every year, thousands of Britons wear red lapel poppies as a symbol of remembrance of the fallen, and to raise money for the families of servicemen. The poppies, immortalized in John McCrae’s poem, “In Flanders Fields,” stand as a symbol for the poppy fields that grew out of the Belgian battlefields where many soldiers fell. Wreathes of poppies are also lain at the foot of The Cenotaph war memorial in Whitehall, London, as well as at ceremonies throughout other countries. A two-minute silence is observed on both Remembrance Sunday and November 11th at 11am.
1, Men of the 369th Infantry who won the Croix de Guerre (highest French military honor). In front row from left to right are: Privates Ed. Williams, Herbert Taylor, Leon Fraitor and Ralph Hawkins. In rear row are Private H. D. Prunes, Sgt. D. Stormes, Private Joe Williams. Private Arthur Menly and Corp. Taylor. - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/369th_Infantry_Regiment_(United_States)
Hmong American veterans are still fighting for their recognition this Veterans’ Day: their enormous sacrifice, which saved tens of thousands of American troops during the Vietnam War, deserves the respect and benefits accorded to other veterans, too.
In 2000, Congress passed the Hmong Veterans Naturalization Act, extending citizenship to Hmong Americans who came to the U.S. as refugees and served in the Special Guerrilla Unit, but these veterans still don’t have access to veterans benefits like medical treatment at VA hospitals or military burials.
Read more about the Hmong Special Guerrilla Unit fighters and their fight to be recognized.
This is Sgt. Paul Sasse, a veteran of the Iraq war.
In 2007, Sgt. Sasse was hit by a roadside. A traumatic brain injury led the U.S. Army to diagnose Sgt. Sasse with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Army doctors treated Sgt. Sasse’s PTSD with a concoction of drugs that made the veteran manic. Sgt. Sasse struggled with memory loss, depression, nightmares and fits of rage.
A few weeks after Army doctors started their treatment, Sgt. Sasse lashed out at his wife and a military police officer. The Army put Sgt. Sasse in a jail cell; for months, he sat incarcerated despite the military’s failure to press charges against him.
Sgt. Sasse was taken off all his medications, a practice the FDA warns against. While he was incarcerated, Sgt. Sasse began having delusions that the Army had locked him in an Iraqi prison. Sgt. Sasse lashed out at guards, earning him three criminal charges and nine months in solitary confinement.
An Army judge ruled in September 2012 that Sgt. Sasse was not mentally competent to stand trial. Sgt. Sasse was flown to a military psychiatric hospital in North Carolina.
For two months, Sgt. Sasse received medical treatment. In November 2012, doctors said Sgt. Sasse was competent enough to stand trial. Sgt. Sasse was thrown back in jail.
Medical experts continue to argue that Sgt. Sasse still needs extensive psychiatric treatment for his PTSD. A defense attorney says “his confinement is tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment.”
The Army has upheld their decision to prosecute Iraqi war veteran Sgt. Sasse. If convicted, he could face over 40 years in prison.