In school, I wasn’t taught too much about World War I past the assassination of Austria’s Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo, the alliances between European countries and the American Expeditionary Force’s involvement. And oh yes, the influenza epidemic.

Sure, I’d also seen movies about World War I like Lawrence of Arabia, All’s Quiet On the Western Front, Paths of Glory and others, but didn’t get a grasp on the enormity of the thing until I read The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman. By the time the war ended in 1918 countries in every continent were involved and in the aftermath, new countries sprang up.

John Larson

Then in 1919, one year after the war ended, Armistice Day was proclaimed and by 1938 it was declared a federal holiday. After World War II and the Korean War, it was renamed Veterans Day and redefined to recognize all U.S. military veterans.

I was reading that in New Mexico we have somewhere around 175,000 veterans, with maybe 1,800 right here in Socorro County, so I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone knows someone who has served or maybe have served themselves or is serving right now.

It makes no difference if their service was behind a desk, in a motor pool, a chow hall, clinic or carrying a rifle. In the end, there’s one thing they all share, and that’s the contribution they made for the rest of us. Those who served in Vietnam and returned home understand this just as much as anyone. When you’re in a combat zone there are sights and sounds and smells you never knew before, and kind of it’s like the world has gone a little crazy. But you have confidence. You know you are doing the right thing.

And this goes for all who have put on a uniform and seen duty at home in the National Guard or Reserves, or in far-flung places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Korea, Southeast Asia and the European or Pacific Theaters in World War II.

I didn’t mean to wax poetic about all this, but still, keep in mind that it’s called an “honorable” discharge. If nothing else, graduating from boot camp is no small feat for many a teenager.

The big stick carrier, Army veteran and U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt, once said, “A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to get a square deal afterward.”

Although the formal observance at Isidro Baca Park has been canceled try to take a moment on Wednesday at 11 a.m. to reflect on their contributions.

Here it is November already and the weather will soon be getting rude again. But all is not lost, Thanksgiving is only three weeks away. Besides Armistice Day, there’s Sadie Hawkins Day, Clean Your Refrigerator Day, Black Friday, the Great American Smokeout … and today, Nov. 5, Guy Fawkes Day.

As Thanksgiving Day is unique to America, Guy Fawkes Day is unique to England. Whereas the former is to give thanks and have a grand feast, the latter is for the guy who, in 1605, tried to blow up Parliament. It’s also called Gunpowder Day. You have to get the British sense of humor, I guess.

But, back to Thanksgiving and, if I may, the pressing question of the day: Do you have enough pumpkin spice to make it through the holidays?

I’ve been looking around and have tried to make a list of all the products that have jumped on the pumpkin spice bandwagon. This search was inspired by my recent purchase of pumpkin spice flavored Reese’s peanut butter cups, and it seems nothing escapes the pumpkin spice frenzy.

There’s – take a deep breath – pumpkin spice salsa, coffee, Hostess cupcakes, kettle corn, Werther’s caramel, Jello pudding, Twinkies, breakfast rolls, waffle mix, English muffins, Pop-Tarts and various breakfast cereals.

But here’s a couple that raises an eyebrow: pumpkin spice Spam and pumpkin spice Kraft cheese. I won’t be surprised if the next thing will be pumpkin spice dog food. Oh. I’ve just been informed there is pumpkin spice dog food called Pumpkin Pup. Well, it’s not really dog food but peanut butter for dogs. Who’da thunk it?

And remember all this has nothing to do with actual pumpkins, although when I used to brew my homemade Smashing Pumpkins Ale the recipe called for actual real-life pumpkin rinds for the boil. It was only for the fermentation did the pumpkin spice flavoring get added to give it that pumpkin pie flavor. Beer Lover’s Day, incidentally, is this Saturday.

I’d better hold up here before I go too far and start getting hungry because with the weather starting to get chilly, I’ll be replacing my face mask with a feed bag.

Even though I probably will lay on a few extra pounds between now and New Year’s, there’s a part of me that still believes I can get into that old Air Force uniform I took off when I was 24.

But then there’s all that Laffy Taffy we never gave out last week. Uh-oh.