While many of us do it daily, there is one day a year where civilians say a formal thank-you to our service men and women. That day is Veteran’s Day, which we will honor on Nov. 11.
Veterans Day is an official United States holiday honoring armed service veterans. It is a federal holiday that is observed on Nov. 11. It coincides with other holidays such as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day, which are celebrated in other parts of the world and also mark the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I.
Veterans Day celebrates the service of all members of the U.S. military.
Doing some homework, you can find that U.S. President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed Armistice Day for November 11, 1919. In proclaiming the holiday, he said, “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”
The United States Congress passed a concurrent resolution seven years later on June 4, 1926, requesting that President Calvin Coolidge issue another proclamation to observe November 11 with appropriate ceremonies.
A Congressional Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U.S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday: “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day’.”
In 1945, WWII veteran Raymond Weeks from Birmingham, Ala., had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans, not just those who died in World War I. Weeks led a delegation to Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, who supported the idea of National Veterans Day. Weeks led the first national celebration in 1947 in Alabama and annually until his death in 1985.
President Ronald Reagan honored Weeks at the White House with the Presidential Citizenship Medal in 1982 as the driving force for the national holiday. Elizabeth Dole, who prepared the briefing for President Reagan, determined Weeks as the “Father of Veterans Day.”
That is a short history of this important day, but for many of us, it’s about paying respect to all the men and women serving us in uniform, whether it’s here at home, or at a base in harm’s way far away from home.
Veterans are the people of our society who have seen the worst of humanity. They see death, they carry guns and they put themselves in harm’s way in the name of protecting our country.
Soldiers don’t do these things in a time of war because someone asked them to. Many of our military men and women want to serve their country. They want to protect, they want to make a difference and, they serve any time, whether we are at peace or at war.
This is a day where we remember, and honor veterans from historical wars, World War I, World War II, Vietnam, the Korean War, and the first war in Iraq. But, this is also a time to remember we as a country are still at war. Our soldiers are still in harm’s way in both Iraq and Afghanistan. It is those soldiers who especially deserve our gratitude today.
These soldiers have seen terrorism at it’s worst, they see day in and day out the true hatred some feel for the United States, and they are doing two, three or more tours to these countries.
This kind of service can stay with a soldier forever. Some may have the highly-visible physical scars, while others have the scars of war inside. Whether the scars are physical, or emotional, the support should be the same for all members of our military.
Whether attending an actual ceremony on Sunday, or staying home, please take the time to thank a Veteran for putting themselves in harm’s way in the name of freedom and protection.