Veterans Day: a day to honor and remember

Hostilities of World War I were ended at the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month in 1918 with the enactment of armistice with Germany, marking the unofficial end of World War I.

By Darby Martin

Veterans Day is celebrated on Nov. 11 every year to honor military veterans; those who have served in any branch of the Armed Forces. The holiday, which coincides with other holidays around the world such as Armistice Day and Remembrance Day, which are also celebrated to honor the end of the major hostilities of World War I. Veterans Day differs from Memorial Day, as Memorial Day is specifically for those who died in service, while Veterans Day is for all who have served, whether they have died or are still with us.

Hostilities of World War I were ended at the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month in 1918 with the enactment of armistice with Germany, marking the unofficial end of World War I. This year, Sunday, Nov. 11 marks the 100-year anniversary of the end of violence of World War I. The Treaty of Versailles, the official treaty that ended the war, was not signed until seven months later on June 28, 1919 due to prolonged peace negotiations. Although it took seven extra months for a treaty to be officially signed, Nov. 11, 1918 is generally considered, “the war to end all wars.”

This year, Veterans Day falls on a Sunday, so it will be observed on Monday, Nov 12. In the United States, if Veterans Day falls on a Saturday, it is typically observed the Friday prior. If the holiday falls on a Sunday, it is observed the Monday after. As a reminder, County Offices, banks, and some businesses will be closed on Monday in observance, as it is a federally recognized holiday.

According to a 2014 study published in The Washington Post, roughly 10% of Montana’s population has served in the military. Broken down to be veterans as a percentage of the state’s whole population, Montana places second in terms of highest percentage of veterans, trailing behind Alaska by a very small margin.

Baker is no exception to this high rate of veterans seen throughout Montana. A quick walk through The Legion or a stop by Thee Garage during the time many veterans gather to play cards and have coffee will give you a good idea of just how many veterans are still with us throughout town. To honor the historical significance of Veterans Day this year, we take a deeper look at one of the many born in Baker who have served in the military.

James Boyd Seaman was born April 24, 1924 in Baker and served during World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. He entered into the service as an Aviation Cadet immediately after graduation from Baker High School in 1942. After ten difficult months of flight training, Seaman graduated and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps. At the young age of 19, Lieutenant Seaman became one of the youngest aviators in the Marine Corps.

Seaman’s big break came in Nov. of 1944, when many new pilots were needed in preparation for the invasion of Okinawa, Japan. Seaman is perhaps most notably remembered for his heroic actions during World War II on the morning of May 28, 1945 just north of Okinawa, Japan. The U.S.S. Drexler had been severely damaged by a hostile suicide plane, with another plane approaching the ship. Seaman jumped to action, braving heavy gunfire attacking the enemy plane relentlessly until it crashed. This act of great bravery earned Seaman the second highest award for valor in combat, the Navy Cross.

After the Korean War, Seaman received additional training to become a helicopter pilot. Upon completion of this training, Major Seaman was assigned to Marine Helicopter Squadron One- White House Duty. In this role, Major Seaman served as the pilot of Marine One during the Eisenhower presidency.

During his 23 years in the Marine Corps, Seaman flew nearly every type of available aircraft at the time, including jets and helicopters. After serving in three major conflicts; World War II, Vietnam, and Korea, as well as his time with Helicopter Squadron One, it was time for Major James Boyd Seaman to officially retire from duty.

Major Seaman is just one of many examples of local heroes who truly exemplify what it means to serve the United States. He, as with so many others in the community, deserves to be remembered and honored for service and sacrifice this Nov. 11. This Veterans Day, take a walk through the city park to visit the Fallon County Veterans Memorial, find those veterans playing cards, take a moment of silence, and most importantly, say thank you to all those who have served the United States to protect our freedoms.