Flags outside Ryan's Flags outside Ryan's Funerals in Jackson (Kevin Williams, Townsquare Media NJ)

With Veterans Day falling on a Sunday the annual Ocean County Veterans Day Parade will take place this morning and follow the same route in downtown Toms River as the Halloween Parade just a couple of weeks ago.

It begins at 9:45 in the Toms River Shopping Center and will conclude in front of Toms River Town Hall on Washington Street with a ceremony which will include the laying of a wreath at the Veterans Monument.

Veterans Day was created to honor those who died while serving their country during World War 1 and was originally called Armistice Day and fell on November 11 because that’s the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War 1 in 1918.  However in 1954 the holiday was changed to Veterans Day in order to honor all veterans in all wars for their patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve and sacrifice.

Memorial Day, which is observed on the last Monday in May is when we pay tribute to those who died while serving in the armed forces.

In case you missed out on the opportunity Sunday it is never too late to thank those who have served and just importantly are still serving to protect our freedoms.  We are clearly more aware than ever that military members returning from combat often face even greater challenges here then when they were overseas.

Our support for them has to be more than waving a flag during a parade. Our country owes them a debt of gratitude that needs to be repaid.

While that’s not something most of us can do as individuals we can continue to show our support in simple ways from attending today’s parade to donating to various veterans organizations.  One of the things my father used to do was pick up the tab when he would see a couple of soldiers in uniform having breakfast or lunch…just a simple act to acknowledge ones service to country.

Like many of his generation my father enlisted in the Marine Corps during the later stages of World War II by forging his mother’s signature and he was later recalled during the Korean War.  His service was something that was important to him just like those who continue to serve today.  Thank a veteran today and every day.

 

Kevin Williams' father' gravestone (Kevin Williams, Townsquare Media NJ)