By the time you read this article Halloween will probably be over and we all know what happens next; the Christmas decorations come out at the retail outlets and the Christmas commercials start on TV. They probably have already started. Why we jump from Halloween right to Christmas is baffling. I guess it is because the almighty dollar takes precedent and there is not much to sell around two of the most important holidays of the year which both fall in the month of November.
Thanksgiving is one of the best holidays of the year because it affords us two days off instead of one and if your schedule allows for it you can fall into a four-day weekend. This time away from the stressful job that we do is essential to our wellbeing. This extended holiday also allows some of our members to travel and visit with their families or welcome into their homes loved ones who they have not seen in a while. For those who must work on this holiday, many stations continue the tradition of cooking up a Thanksgiving meal for our members who need to be on duty that day. Our police family is always there for us and gathering together with our police family, even at the stations, lightens the angst some of us feel when we would rather be with our own families. The holiday pay takes the sting out of it as well.
The other holiday in November often does not get the attention it truly deserves especially in this day and age in San Francisco. It is particularly important this year since November 11, 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the Armistice of Compiegne, which ended all the fighting of World War I. The armistice was signed on the eleventh hour on the eleventh day in the eleventh month in a simple railroad car in the forest outside of Paris. When hostilities ended, World War I was often referred to as the “Great War” or the “War to End All Wars”. Sadly, both of those labels proved to be wrong after the world plunged back into war in 1939 when Germany invaded Poland.
What is important about November 11th is that in 1919 President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed this day as Armistice Day. Later in 1925 President Calvin Coolidge issued a proclamation to observe this date with appropriate ceremonies. In 1938 a Congressional Act made November 11th an official U.S. holiday known as Armistice Day which recognized the sacrifices of all who served in World War I.
After the carnage of World War II it was a veteran from that war who led the charge to rename this holiday as Veterans Day. Now all who have served in the armed forces, in any war or conflict, and those who served in peace time would be acknowledged and recognized. With full support from President Dwight Eisenhower who served as the Supreme Allied Commander in the European theater of World War II, the holiday was changed in 1954 and is now known as Veterans Day.
Veterans Day should not be confused with Memorial Day. They both honor members from the armed forces but Memorial Day pays respect to those who have fallen while serving and defending our country, while Veterans Day recognizes all who have served our country.
There have been hundreds and hundreds of SFPD officers, past and present, who are veterans and have served honorably for our nation. Many have experienced bloody conflicts over seas but have decided to continue to serve their fellow man by joining the SFPD. Some have been fully discharged from the military and some remain in the service as a reservist. Regardless, it is a testimony to their commitment, dedication and self-sacrifice for their country and their community. We owe all of them our gratitude and respect.
Several years ago, the POA established the Armed Forces Committee. This committee’s sole purpose is to address issues related to our members who are veterans or active reservists. This committee has made great strides in seeing that the department complies with Federal and State law related to pay and leave for those who continue to serve our country. We will not tolerate non-compliance by the department and recently SFPD command has been extremely accommodating when the POA raised issues regarding pay for reservists.
As we wind down 2018 and enter into the holiday season let’s not forget those who made it possible for us to even celebrate holidays and to live and work in a country of freedom which is governed by the people and for the people.
Thank you to all our veterans and to all of our officers who have served and sacrificed and continue to sacrifice and serve. Take this holiday season to enjoy your families and friends in your time off but let’s not forget all who have served and continue to serve.