Thoughts on Veterans Day

Sergeant. Wayne Broyles, Fireman Johnnie L. Broyles, Petty Officer 2nd Class Keith Broyles

He said:
    The Lord is my solid rock, my fortress, my rescuer.
    My God is my rock—I take refuge in him!—
    he’s my shield and my salvation’s strength,
    my place of safety and my shelter.
    My savior! Save me from violence!
Because he is praiseworthy,
    I cried out to the Lord,
    and I was saved from my enemies. (2 Samuel 22:2-4, Common English Bible)

Yesterday was Veterans Day. At least to me, this day is special. Yesterday was even more special because my Uncle Mike was the author of yesterday’s post, where he talked about his friend, college classmate, and good friend Clint Ward. I was very moved my my uncle’s words.

Veterans Day is the day each year we stop and remember all who served in the military. It and two other days and the reasons behind them are often confused. Each, in their own right is a very special day that should give all Americans a moment to stop, pause and reflect.

Armed Forces Day is the day we celebrate the men and women who serve our country right now. We celebrate Armed Forces Day on the third Saturday of May. The day is a big deal. It is a day set aside for those who currently serve and protect the freedoms we enjoy.

Part of my purpose in this post is to thank those in my family who have worn the uniform. To the best of my knowledge I do not have anyone in my family currently in the military. If there is someone who I should have in this column please let me know for future posts.

Memorial Day is the day most important of the three. Celebrated on the fourth Monday of May, Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. These men and women died in action during one of the conflicts of the United States. I believe it is the most important because, while many of us have worn the uniform, I and all I know personally have lived to tell about it.

Like Armed Forces Day, to the best of my knowledge, of those who gave their lives in the service of the United States, none were lost in action. Again, to my family members, if I have neglected this category, please email me a correction.

Veterans Day is celebrated on November 11th each year. This date was originally “Armistice Day,” the day that brought an end to World War I. Veteran’s Day honors all who have served the U.S. military.

In his “Armistice Day” address to the country, President Woodrow Wilson wrote, “To us in America the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service, and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of nations.”

In 1926 Congress requested of President Calvin Coolidge  that issue annual proclamations calling for the observance of November 11 with appropriate ceremonies. Twelve years later, in 1938, Congress made November 11th a Federal holiday.

Following World War II a World War II vet, Raymond Weeks, with the backing of other vets, and the backing of General Dwight D. Eisenhower to use Armistice Day as a day to celebrate all veterans, not just those who served in World War I. Weeks led the first Veteran’s Day celebration in Alabama on November 11, 1947. He led such celebrations until his death in 1985.

On May 26, 1954, Congress passed and President Eisenhower signed into law a bill stating that “Armistice Day” was a day for all Veterans. The day, as passed, however, was short-lived. A week later, on June 1, 1954, Congress amended the bill, changing the name of the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.

Veterans Day is commonly spelled, “Veteran’s” or “Veterans'” Day. According the website for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs,” this is incorrect, “because it is not a day that ‘belongs’ to veterans, it is a day for honoring all veterans.”

Before my parent’s generation, I don’t know about military service in my family. I feel certain there was but I don’t know it. Help from family members would be appreciated. Also if I leave anyone out, please help me out.

James “Jim” N. Broyles – Jim was my dad’s older brother and he served at the end of World War II. I just told you all I know about Uncle Jim’s service.

Johnnie L. Broyles – Navy, U.S.S. Tolovana, Fireman. In the Navy a Fireman is not what you think. A Fireman is a rank (an E3) and consists of duty assignments that are primarily below decks. Dad worked as a boilerman and as an engineman on the Tolovana during the Korean Conflict. The ship was a fleet oiler. They refueled the fleet at sea. They made regular trips into the war zone to fulfill their mission.

Mearl Oquinn, Jr. – Mearl was my father-in-law. He was a Navy Seabee. He served in Hawaii, Alaska, and Guam.

Col. Michael R. Seale, United States Air Force (Retired). Michael (My mother’s oldest brother) served 27 years in the Air Force beginning in 1967 when he graduated from Texas A&M. He began his service during the Vietnam War. He service included tours at White Sands NM, Thailand, Colorado Springs, Germany, Trenton, New Jersey, Dover Delaware, and more.

Thomas B. Broyles – Uncle Tommy is my dad’s youngest brother. He served in the Air Force. I don’t know much more about his service than I just said.

James K. Broyles, Navy. I was a Second Class Petty Officer. I was a signalman, a job the Navy has since retired. I sent and received signals using semaphore, flashing light Morse Code, and maritime flags. We also encoded and decoded signals. I served aboard the U.S.S. Mt. Whitney. Officially called an amphibious command ship, the Mt. Whitney is (still commissioned and now one of the Navy’s oldest ships) a communication’s platform. When I was on this ship, it served as the flagship for Commander Second Fleet, Commander Amphibious Group 2, and Commander Fourth Marine Amphibious Brigade. If you are keeping score, that is six stars on that ship all the time.

Darrell R. Seale – Darrell is my cousin and a second generation Air Force officer. My Uncle Mike commissioned his son Darrell into the Air Force. Darrell was the officer who retired my Uncle. I am embarrassed to say, I just told you all I know about Darrell’s military service.

Michael W. Broyles – Known in our family as Wayne. Wayne entered the Marine Corps and advanced to Staff Sergeant while on active duty and then to Sergeant while in the reserves. He repaired electronic equipment (and that is all he says he can tell me and I am good with that). Wayne was in Iraq for the second Gulf War. He also spent time in Japan, Australia, Kuwait, and San Diego.

Aaron Oquinn – Aaron (Cindy’s youngest brother, Thomas’ son) served in the Marine Corp. I need to learn a bit more about Aaron’s service. He did serve in California.

As I have previously said, these are all the family members I know who served in the military. I welcome corrections and additional information.

I am proud of my service in the Navy. I am equally proud of the other members of my family who have served. To each, thank you for your service.

I had hoped to put together a list of friends who have also served but I ran out of time. Perhaps a project for next year.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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