Earlier today, thanks to the internet birthday wishes started coming for me in from around the world. It is not my birthday, but instead one of the only spots on the calendar I truly consider sacred. I use it as my birthday when non-official computers ask, to dutifully mark the year the 20th century truly started.
Veterans Day. Not the one marked with a white sale, or low-low prices on a new flat-screen television. But the real Veterans Day. A celebration of peace that we must always remember.
A day to be happy you’re alive. A day to thank people who put on a uniform on your behalf. A day to be proud.
Every year, I post some variation on these words, reminding people that my date of birth is inconsequential. Compared to the silent guns of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, it’s a small moment that really only matters to myself and my parents.
And thanks to the internet, I have two of those again. One wore a uniform. Thanks to the internet, I have brothers and a sister, where once I had none. But thanks to veterans, I have a life of safety and security, and so do you.
Thanks to the internet, I can share my feelings on this subject with you all. So today I’m not talking about my books, or movies, or about the things that make me unhappy. Because this is not my day.
If you want to wish me well, I do thank you for your thoughts. But I’d much rather you use the next 24 hours to thank a veteran, and welcome them home.
(collected below are some of my posts on this topic over the last few years)
I am the son of a veteran. My uncle is a vet, as was my grandfather. As I grew to be a man, my friends entered service and went away to other countries, while I and my bad knees stayed home. After various misadventures we came together as adults, and went a little crazy before the turn of the century.
People ask me why I record my date of birth online as November 11th, 1918. It’s because some things should be remembered and celebrated. My date of birth is not one of them, but every year I get to write some version of this message to remind people that there are important things in the world.
Look around your lives and you will find men and women who wrote blank checks to their countries. When you go to sleep tonight without fear and secure in the knowledge you’ll wake up in the same place tomorrow, you’re cashing them in.
I thank everyone for their well wishes, and add this. I reinvent my life every day. Small things mostly, but always with the knowledge that my friends gave up parts of theirs so I might have that luxury. For me, this is the Happiest of days, because I get to thank them.
Thank you. One and all. You matter, and I’ll never forget.
Thank you all for expressing birthday wishes. However, it isn’t my day to celebrate. I’m of the opinion that if you’re going to remember a day, it should have significance outside yourself. Many years ago I chose an “Internet” birthday, a day I feel is so important that we should never forget it.
Today is that day. Don’t wish me well for any reason other than I am alive, largely in part to the men and women of all nations who chose to serve others and risk their lives so that the innocent and the powerless might see another sunrise.
Look to the veterans in your life today, and thank them. Remember a day a century ago when the world recoiled in horror at man’s inhumanity to man, and vowed “Never Again.” Remember the lessons that generation gave to their children, whose sacrifices truly brought us back from the precipice.
Remember 230 years of freedom from tyranny, and honor those who thought your life more valuable than their own.
Blow out the candles, mankind. It’s your birthday.
For those who stood and watched over my freedoms, for those who sacrificed that I might enjoy them.
Now and forever, you are my brothers.
I thank you, with every part of my heart.
No, really. Today is not, nor never have I treated it as my birthday. Today is a celebration of a far more solemn kind.
First, that the 20th century stopped the madness killing the last generation of the 19th coming to its senses long enough to take a deep, Influenza ridden breath that killed a few more million people without a shot fired in anger.
As the years went on, and the men that fought and bled in that terrible war to end all wars aged and died, their children, men and women alike, put on a Uniform and agreed to die for ideas around the world. We honor all of them today.
Governments pause and consider how to best use their lives wisely. Morons complain about not being able to buy stamps, and citizens reach out arms to embrace their sons and daughters.
I write, so today I will write about loss, and life and love…
Lest We Forget.
For the record, neither yesterday, today, nor tomorrow, or in fact any day in November is my birthday. Thanks for the thoughts, and if you must celebrate, hoist a glass in the correct and proper hand tomorrow to honor those who cannot.