For most, Veterans Day is a time to recognize the men and women responsible for maintaining freedom, to celebrate with family and friends and to thank a veteran or two.
Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. In 1926, Congress passed a resolution for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 has been a national holiday since 1938.
To veterans, however, the day means much more.
“I think to most people, Veterans Day is a day to recognize and remember those that have served,” said Andover native Austin Buck, a Marine Corps veteran who served from 2009 to 2013.
“To me, though, and I think many other veterans, it is different,” he said. “We are looking from the other side of the glass. I think for most veterans, myself at least, it is a day to reflect and look back at our time in service. To remember what we have done and what we have accomplished, as well as remember who we are.”
For Bethel native and Army veteran Mike Cross, it is a day to remember the men and women he served alongside and the closeness he felt to them in the military.
“In the Army, there’s such a feeling of camaraderie: Everyone is your brother and your sister,” said Cross, who served from 2010 to 2015. “For me, it’s a day to think about that.”
Danny Ojeda of Auburn, serving as military police in the Army National Guard since 2009, said joining the military changed his life, and he thinks young people could benefit from the values taught there.
“Joining has given me skills that I can use every day,” Ojeda said. “It has taught me respect, honor, and other things that I feel are needed every single day, and that I also feel today’s youth should (practice) as well.”
Buck said the Marines taught him discipline for every aspect of his life, and saved him from a questionable future.
“I went from being kicked out of high school to earning 20.5 credits in two years so I could graduate on time, just to go to boot camp,” Buck said.
Cross said service gave him “extra confidence.”
“Being in the Army has made me stronger,” he said. “Things that I used to think I couldn’t do don’t intimidate me anymore.”
Marine veteran Joy Bordeau, chaplain of American Legion Post 24 in Rumford, gained a whole new sense of responsibility.
“I protect people; it’s what Marines do,” Bordeau said.
No matter the reason for joining or how it changed their lives, most veterans have one thing in common: pride — for themselves, their country and their service.
“I literally fell in love with the Marines,” Buck said. “I loved who they were, what they did, and what they represented and stood for. The Marine Corps changed my life forever.”
Danny Ojeda of Auburn is a member of the Maine Army National Guard 488th Military Police Co. (Danny Ojeda photo)
Marine Corps veteran Austin Buck, left, with fellow Marine Jose Flores. Buck, an Andover native, served from 2009 to 2013. (Austin Buck photo)
Mike Cross, Army veteran and Bethel native, served from 2010 to 2015. (Mike Cross photo)