For as long as the holidays have existed, people have been confusing Memorial Day and Veterans day. While Memorial Day honors those who have lost their lives in the line of duty for our nation, Veterans day is a day of recognition for all the living veterans in our nation. November 11, Veterans Day, was originally designed as a means to celebrate the armistice that marked the end of the first World War. Only days before the first anniversary of the armistice between the Central Powers and the Allies was the Holiday enacted back in 1918. Now, it is celebration of all those living who served in our nation’s military. The holiday recognizes the sacrifices of those around us so that we may enjoy the simple pleasures such as going to a sporting event. Without these sacrifices so many of our pastimes would not be possible. For the past several years especially, sporting events such as the NCAA Men’s Basketball Carrier Classic, NHL Veterans Day Recognition Night, and others have dominated the public scope on Veterans Day.
Now symbols of the United States and patriotism has always existed at sporting events since pre 20th century when the National Anthem was played prior to games and to the 1918 World Series when it became a mainstay in sporting events, with the First World War coming to an end. During periods of war, fear, and unrest, the presence of an American flag, Francis Scott Key’s well known poem, and uniformed men and women not competing in a game has become commonplace. To the point that war does not have to be taken place for patriotism to be presence.
In all areas of the sporting world events have been held to recognize our veterans. In 2011 and 2012 the Carrier Classic was an event out straight out of a storybook. In 2011 the USS Carl Vinson served as the backdrop between the number one ranked University of North Carolina Tar Heels and the University of Michigan Spartans, a rematch of the 2009 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final. In attendance were over 8,000 military and the Obama family. Like so many other major sporting events an unveiling of the stars and stripes and a F-16 flyover preceded the game. Sporting events like these have become the norm in today’s time.
The National Hockey League too has followed the steps of the NCAA in recognizing Veterans on November 11. Commemorative jerseys and camo-taped hockey sticks, promotions for veterans and their families, and ceremonies of recognition have dominated the ice for this day of recognition. Other popular sporting activities include local marathons all across the country from Santa Barbara, California to rural Indiana. Sporting events have always had a way of uniting the American people, however, on Veterans Day especially we must not miss out on the true purpose.
No matter how many showy displays of F-16s and flag ceremonies we see, we all must remember that Veterans day is to celebrate those who served in order to protect the things we care about the most. American freedom, American ideals, and even our ability to watch our favorite teams compete can all be traced back to the sacrifices our troops have made. These people gave up valuable years of their lives just to insure that all of us could live comfortably.
This Veterans Day watch the games, enjoy the competition, and celebrate who we are. We are Americans and while there have been many sacrifices along the way, we still stand here today strong as ever celebrating through sports and comradery. Enjoy the cookouts, the games, and your family. Just never forget why we are able to celebrate the way we are. Veterans all across our country have sacrificed time and time again. Whether it’s men’s basketball, the NHL, the NBA, or even the UNCG Men’s Basketball game vs. #7 ranked Virginia, just tune in and honor those who came before us.