To honor Veterans Day, on Friday morning, the Indiana University Army and Air Force ROTC color guard raised the flag on the pole just east of Sample Gates, in front of Franklin Hall.
Franklin Hall is home to the university’s media school. The building’s statue of journalist Ernie Pyle, the iconic World War II correspondent, sitting at a typewriter, is a coincidental connection to the day.
After the flag was raised, IU alum and army veteran Phillip Zook addressed the gathering. Zook served in the Vietnam War and was decorated with two Purple Hearts.
Zook’s theme was the “forgotten focus” of the day of remembrance that is now called Veterans Day. What’s been forgotten, Zook said, is the focus on promoting peace.
By way of background, World War I ended on Nov. 11, 1918. An act of Congress approved May 13, 1938, made Nov. 11, each year a legal holiday, described as “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day'”
In 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the legislation changing the name of the legal holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.
Zook quoted Eisenhower’s proclamation on that occasion: “On that day let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.”
Zook’s remarks on Friday morning wrapped up like this:
All countries around the world are still failing to fulfill the purpose of this day of remembering. In the United States, we have a national holiday, but it seems now that slight attention is paid to both of the purposes.
Most churches make no special attention to this day, even if the 11th falls on Sunday. Do they fail to see their obligation of these ideals of Veterans Day called on in scripture?
John 15:13: “Greater love has no man than this, that he would lay down his life for another.”
Or Matthew 5:9: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.”
And Joshua 1:5 “I will be with you. I will not leave you or forget you.”
Most universities and public schools do not suspend so much as an hour of class time to express our gratitude for those who have served or to encourage peace through goodwill and mutual understanding between nations. In 1950, when I was in elementary school, on this day, all classes assembled in the auditorium, and observed a moment of silence at 11 a.m.
It is to the credit of Indiana University and the efforts of vice president Kirk White that this observance has been established at Indiana University, to salute those that served and those that will serve in the future.
So now, I appeal to you to remember the other part of the original purpose of this day. Yes, we should always honor those that served. But we should also encourage peaceful resolution to all conflicts.
You that are about to be commissioned as officers in the armed forces, and those of you that are now on active duty, please remember the founding ideals of Armistice Day, not just to honor our veterans, but to encourage peace through goodwill and mutual understanding between nations.
I encourage you to dare to be what we dream to be. I encourage you to dare to be the finest that you can be. Let us strive for peaceful resolution in all conflict. God bless this country and those that defend it now and defend in the future. And God bless all those who work for peace in this troubled world.
Photos: Veterans Day 2022 Indiana University