Today is Veterans Day in the United States, a day of remembrance set aside to pay tribute to the men and women who serve in the military. Politics aside, a life of service is a difficult but necessary sacrifice, and those who choose to put their country and their sense of duty ahead of personal issues should be rewarded far more profoundly than they are.
Coincidentally, today also marks a key date in military history. On November 11, 1918, the first World War officially ended. Having run out of supplies and facing almost total annihilation from all sides, Germany signed an armistice with the Allies in France (poetically, the deal was signed at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year). All told, nine million soldiers died and 21 million more were wounded over the course of the four year conflict, which spread across central Europe and lead to the end of both the Ottoman and Austria-Hungarian Empires. Ironically, the official treaty that ended the first World War (the Treaty of Versailles, signed in June of 1919) put such heavy sanctions on Germany that it indirectly lead to the second World War, which broke out in September of 1939.
The word “soldier” gets tossed around pretty casually, so much so that the true and fundamental meaning of the word seems to have been lost. Too many rappers compare themselves to military personnel, likening the nation-first service of actual infantry to life on the street. It’s also difficult to full capture the idea of what being a soldier is without becoming hokey or jingoistic, but ironically, Drowning Pool‘s “Soldiers” does a pretty good job of knowing the difference.