On Nov. 11, we celebrate Veterans Day, which has its origins with the end of World War I. While the Treaty of Versailles, signed June 28, 1919, marked the official end of the war, fighting had ceased the previous November when an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.
The first commemoration of Armistice Day, as it was called then, was Nov. 11, 1919. In proclaiming Armistice Day, President Woodrow Wilson said: “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 council of the nations …”
This national holiday had a name change in 1954 to Veterans Day, a day to honor American veterans of all wars for their patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.
Many families in the Diocese of Davenport have sons, daughters, husbands, wives or grandchildren serving our country in the military. Some of these loved ones have perished in war or suffered debilitating injuries. Even those who have suffered no harm have made sacrifices in service to their country.
We share the following reflections and ask for prayers for all of our veterans and those currently serving at home or abroad.
Family has tradition of serving
Jane Campagna’s father and her husband David’s father both served their country during World War II, and the Campagnas, members of St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf, have two sons who are serving in the military.
“I just appreciate and value the people who serve our country by being in the military, who are willing to go to Iraq and to Afghanistan,” said Jane Campagna.
The Campagnas’ older son, John, 30, is a pediatrician who joined the Army about 7-1/2 years ago and received a full-ride scholarship to medical school. At the present time, he’s stationed in San Antonio, Texas, doing a fellowship in adolescent medicine, his mother said. He’s been to Peru and the Philippines on medical mission work. He also is a newlywed, having gotten married in May.
Younger son, Brian, 26, joined the Army in 2006 after graduating from college and is in military intelligence. He’s spent one year in Korea and one year in Iraq and currently is stationed in Seattle. He’ll be leaving in mid-January for Germany.
For Jane Campagna, “Veterans Day is a time to remember the people who serve and to appreciate and value that God gives us people who are striving to keep the world safe and to keep peace. In a perfect world we wouldn’t have to have that. But in the world today, we do need people who try hard to keep the world safe.”
Nurse serves in Afghanistan
Angela Dunlay, 25, from Holy Family Parish in Fort Madison, has been deployed as an Air Force nurse at the Bagram Air Base hospital in Afghanistan for four months. Her deployment is slated to last six months. Here, she reflects on her service:
My typical day consist of waking up, working out and going to work. We work six days a week, 12-hour shifts. It keeps you busy, and I have learned a lot about nursing, other cultures and myself and my faith.
I work with great people, and we support each other. I call them my deployment family. I also have started writing in a journal and started reading a student Bible. Mass is offered on base, and the hospital has it on Sundays. When I have not had enough time to leave work for Mass, the priest has brought Communion.
We are in a combat zone, so it is dangerous. We get briefed on what to do in high-risk situations while we are here, and I keep my faith during those situations. I also have an amazing support system. My friends and family back home are great. It’s amazing how a card in the mail or a package can brighten up your day. I am able to call home a couple times a week, and Skype is an amazing tool!
We take care of everyone here. Patients range from troops in the Afghan national army, children, American troops and coalition forces. It gives me joy to know I am making a difference in these people’s lives. It is interesting taking care of the Afghans and learning their customs and culture. We have translators so we can communicate.
I was over here for the Muslim month of Ramadan. It was interesting to see the Afghans fast and celebrate.
The most rewarding thing that I do here has to be taking care of our American troops. It is amazing to see the brotherhood and sisterhood that these men and women have with each other. They are out on the front lines risking their lives every day, and I feel so fortunate to be able to care for them. Just to know that I can offer them some comfort in their time of need keeps me going every day. Even if it’s as simple as sitting down to talk to them or medicate them so they aren’t in pain, I am truly blessed to be able to care for them.