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It is International Armistice Day, which coincides with Veterans Day (USA) and Remembrance Day (Common Wealth of Nations). Today, the world honors veterans and those who have died in service of country. In Ancient Athens (really in the Greek World at large) honor of veterans and those who had given their life for the city-state was paramount. The greatest example of honoring soldiers came from the greatest leader in Athenian society, Pericles.

In 431, just a year after the Peloponnesian War had begun, Pericles delivered a Panegyric (Funeral Oration) for those who had died in combat; addressing father and mothers, brothers and sisters, citizens and veterans. After a brief introduction (Thuc. II.35), the statesman praised the dead themselves (Thuc. II.36-42), finally exhorting all citizens to become better people through the example of those who, “having had all things, gave all things up for the state” (Thuc. II.42.4). They, said Pericles, addressing the survivors, “must determine to have as unfaltering a resolution in the field [as those who died], though you may pray that it may have a happier outcome” (Thuc. II.43.1).

Thus, remember those who have served and those who have passed in the service of country; not only to suffer and thus pay dues in the pain of memory, but also to be reminded of our duty to honor those who gave everything for our country by living a better life ourselves.

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