Nov. 11, is Veterans Day. Veterans Day was first established in the United States as Armistice Day to celebrate the end of World War I, according to DailyCampus.com. In 1954, the national holiday was changed to Veterans Day, and President Dwight Eisenhower called on all Americans to recognize the bravery and sacrifices of America's veterans. Since then, Veterans Day has been observed as a national holiday, but like so many other things today it has lost its meaning. Veterans Day is not about supporting war or about supporting a certain political party or agenda. Veterans Day is about the veterans. It is about honoring their service for our country. Veterans Day is about recognizing that these brave men and women are ready at any time to serve America when it is in danger.
President Eisenhower, according to StatesmanJournal.com, called on all Americans to "solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us re-consecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain." Fifty-five years later, we continue to honor those brave Americans who have served our nation in uniform; some 48 million men and women whose service spans our history — from the War for Independence to the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our Veterans Day observance has evolved over the years. Our nation's custom of observing the end of World War I in 1918, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month became a legal holiday known as Armistice Day in 1938. In recognition of military service members' sacrifices in World War II and Korea, the name of the holiday was changed to Veterans Day.
In World War I, America's veterans answered the call to fight the war to end all wars, as noted by DailyCampus.com. They fought to keep freedom and liberty in countries a world away from home. In World War II, America's veterans stormed the beaches of Normandy. They fought for the boys of Pearl Harbor, for the defenseless in Europe and for freedom. They raised the flag at Iwo Jima and brought peace and freedom back to the world. In Korea, they fought for the ideals and beliefs that founded America. They fought to preserve what their comrades had fought for in WWII. In Vietnam, veterans answered the call to fight for America's way of life. Even as those they fought for turned their backs on them, they held their heads high and fought valiantly for God and country. In Desert Storm, they fought once again to prevent the innocent from being destroyed by the evil aggression of a mad man. In Afghanistan and in Iraq, America's veterans fight against a faceless evil, one that is bent on opposing freedom and democracy at all costs. Now, perhaps more than ever they are being tested and are prevailing. Across America, veterans and their families and friends will gather in American Legion Posts and Veterans of Foreign Wars Posts to remember. It is the duty of citizens to thank them. That is all Veterans Day is about. It's not about elaborate parades or ceremonies, or even about helping veterans. Veterans Day is about remembering the sacrifices of America's veterans and of their families.
This year on Veterans Day 2009, we honor not only those who fought in our nation's wars, but all who took that solemn oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies" as members of America's armed forces as reported by StatesmansJournal.com. Of course, we remember and honor the more than 1.1 million patriots who died while in military service to America. We must never forget them, or the 24 million other American veterans who passed on since their service. But the beauty of Veterans Day is that we take the time to remember and thank those who have defended us, or stood ready to do so, while they are still with us. And, more than 23 million veterans are still here with us. Three-fourths of them served during time of war; all of them served and all deserve our gratitude.
According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs at VA.gov, World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.” In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "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 original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m. Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.
Consider the selflessness of America's veterans - they do not seek this attention as reported by the DailyCampus.com. In fact for many veterans, Nov. 11 is about their friends and fellow soldiers that did not make it home to celebrate Veterans Day. Veterans are not just aged men in VFW Posts, they are everywhere. They are parents, grandparents, siblings and friends. They are our peers in classes and our friends. Just as they are altruistically ready to take up their country's call and defend America's freedoms and its way of life, America's veterans return and seek no gratification for putting their country before themselves and their families. Nothing can repay a veteran for the sacrifices they have made. No amount of money or thanks can dilute the memories of the living hell that is war. Nothing can replace the amount of time spent away from loved ones who remain at home. Nothing can bring back the lost friends and family members that died in the service of our country. However, simply acknowledging a veteran's service and the sacrifices that accompany it is more than enough. Veterans Day is also about the families of America's veterans who remain at home. They are they ones who wait anxiously every day for any news of their loved ones who are abroad. The families of America's veterans also deserve recognition on Veterans Day. Some have said goodbye to their loved ones for the last time. These families deserve our support. As a service to America's service men and women, it is our duty to help their families who remain at home.
At some point today, think about what Veterans Day means. It doesn't have to be at 11 a.m. According to DailyCampus.com, think about the countless sacrifices that our veterans go through every day of their service so that all Americans can live better lives than anyone else in the world. Think about how some soldiers left America's shores and never came home. Think about how the ones that lived to come back to us carry physical and mental scars from their service. If possible, thank a veteran, whether they are a stranger you meet for a brief moment at a Veterans Day ceremony or whether they are a friend or family member that you have known forever. Let them know that their sacrifices have not gone unnoticed and that America is eternally grateful for their service. If you can't thank a veteran for their service, mark the day. Take a minute to remember what America's veterans have done for each of us, think about the sacrifices veterans and their families make every day. On this Veterans Day, let all Americans, as President Kennedy urged, "join together to honor those who made our freedom possible" and let us continue to work every day of the year to provide veterans the benefits and care they so richly deserve, as noted by the StatesmansJournal.com.
May God bless America's men and women in uniform serving throughout the world.
May God bless our Veterans and their families.
And may God bless the United States of America!
Until next time. Let me know what you think.