Originally published in the November 1958 edition of The American Rifleman.
November 11 is Veteran’s Day, a day which has been proclaimed a patriotic anniversary to honor the men and women who have served their country in time of peril. It has special significance this year because it marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of the armistice which ended World War I. It presents, with the passage of the years, a fitting time for a nationwide salute to those veterans of all Services who participated in “the war to end all wars.”
For three centuries men and women have given their lives to develop, to establish, and to maintain the ideals that constitute America. It is a strong nation today because over the years its loyal citizens have been willing to fight for and, if necessary, to die for those ideals. Let us pause to pay special tribute to those who served in World War I. Let us show our appreciation to all who have been called upon to place the welfare of the nation above the welfare of the individual. At the same time, let us see to it that our present generation is prepared to meet such an obligation should the need arise.
An essential element of individual preparedness is marksmanship training. Marksmanship is only one facet of advanced preparation, but in case of war it affects the individual more directly than any other. Three times within the memory of person now living, we have sent armies into battle to defend the ideals of the United States of America. In each instance, our military commanders have reiterated the crying need for soldiers to be well trained in the use of their basic weapon—the rifle. No one is more aware of this fact than the doughboy who, 40 years ago, was called upon to fight in the water-soaked trenches of World War I or the GI who, more recently, was called upon to fight in the foxholes of World War II and the Korean conflict.
Fighting in the next major war may not be confined to the battlefield alone It is entirely possible that our homeland may be attacked, that never again will be secure from the horrors of bombing and assault. It this should happen, all of our citizens will be called upon for greater independence of thought and action, and greater need for self-reliance, than at any time in the history of our country. It is important, therefore, that the civilians who stay at home, employed in industry or tilling the soil, be trained in the use of personal firearms.
The very nature of the new weapons of war enhances rather than diminishes the value of the personal arm. Nuclear weapons, guided missiles, and guerilla activities of future wars will pose a constant threat to all areas under our influence, at home and abroad. Subversive groups, fifth columnists, and just plain cutthroats will thrive on the confusion resulting from an attack upon any major city. More than ever before, the individual soldier and the individual civilian will be forced to rely upon the weapon with which he is armed and on his own ability to use it effectively, if he is to survive.
Marksmanship training in time of peace if vital to preparedness in time of war. The opportunity to become proficient in rifle and pistol marksmanship is available through the activities of the National Rifle Association of America and the program of the National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice.
On this patriotic anniversary, let us salute the veterans of World War I and all other men and women who have served America in time of war. Also, let us make Veteran’s Day 1958 a day of acceptance of our responsibility to be prepared to defend our American ideals, in peace or in war.