What is patriotism? Simply put, it is a devotion to one’s country. When “The Star-Spangled Banner” is sung, some people become emotional. I love to see the flag displayed openly, especially when there’s a holiday that we don’t have large celebrations for. I appreciate people who have flag poles in their yards and display the flag on a daily basis.

One-hundred years ago, on Nov. 11, 1918, the U.S. and its Allies signed the Armistice with Germany, thus ending the hostilities of World War I. From Nov. 11, 1919, it was long known as Armistice Day until other wars came along and the name was changed to Veterans Day. It is still celebrated on Nov. 11 every year. In the immediate years after the Armistice, the focus of the celebrations was on the veterans of World War I. However, the day came to honor all veterans of foreign wars who risked their lives on the battlefield to secure the freedoms of all Americans. Armistice Day finally became a permanent, official public holiday in 1938.

Over time, particularly after World War II and then the Korean and Vietnam wars, the focus on the 1918 Armistice was lost and the name of the holiday was changed. Additionally, Veterans Day is generally regarded today as honoring all those who ever served in the U.S. Armed Force rather than only those who actually fought in a war.

In order to get and maintain strong armed forces, the draft was set up. The draft was used by the in the American Civil War (both sides,) World War I, World War II and the Cold War (Korea and Vietnam.) The third version of the draft came into being in 1940 through the Selective Training and Service Act. It was the country’s first peacetime draft. The draft is still with us today. When young men in the United States reach the age of 18 they are required to sign up for the draft.

But what about deferments of exemptions to the draft? There were two good reasons for a deferment from the draft: an exemption could be obtained if you could prove to the draft board that it would be a hardship on your family, children or parents; and if they were farmers.

It seems that as the war progressed, farmers were being asked to produce more food with fewer workers. U.S. farmers and agriculture organizations complained about labor shortages, and Congress responded by enacting draft deferments for farmers and farmworkers who were necessary to and regularly engaged in an agricultural occupation.

My uncle, Lloyd Crystal, signed up for the military in World War I, not waiting for the draft on April 3, 1917. He volunteered to enlist in Company M, 2nd Idaho Infantry National Guard at a mass meeting held in the LDS Tabernacle in Rigby. On Aug. 5, 1917, Lloyd, together with all other men of the Idaho regiment was given a National Guard honorable discharge and his company moved into federal service by proclamation of the president of July 3, 1917, as a part of the 146th Machine Gun Battalion of the 41st Division. By this time it had become apparent that the U.S. would have to aid the allies as quickly as possible and the 41st was made a replacement division to furnish replacements for the first four Regular Army and Guard divisions sent overseas. The company from this section left Boise on Oct. 25, 1917 for Camp Mills, Long Island, New York, where they lived in a tent camp. On Jan. 19, 1918, his unit was ordered to prepare to leave for France. He was killed in the line of duty on foreign soil on June 22, 1918, his twenty-second birthday.

Patriotism was strong during WWI and WWII. Many young men lied about their age so they could enlist into military service. Women left at home started doing jobs in factories their husbands had performed before enlisting. Also, there were many volunteer groups set up by women to knit socks, write letters, and help in any way they could. Some trained in medicine were used in military hospitals when injured men were shipped home.

We see a lack of patriotism in our country today. It flourished right after the attack on 9/11, but seems to be withering out now. As we see the flags flying next Monday, Nov. 11, lets honor all veterans of foreign wars by remembering they risked their lives on the battlefield to secure the freedoms of all Americans.

Jean Schwieder is a writer who has spent her life involved in eastern Idaho agriculture. Her books, including past columns, are available by calling 208-522-8098 or by email at straddlinthefence@gmail.com.

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