Veterans Day 2015
compiled by Stu Johnson
Posted: November 11, 2015
Remembering those who serve and how we came to set aside this day…
Like many holidays, Veteran's Day has become a time for sales in stores across America. Some may put out flags, but few remember the meaning of the day. And many confuse it with Memorial Day, which honors those who died in war (originally called "Decoration Day" because of the practice of visiting cemeteries to decorate the graves of those who fell during our own Civil War). Veterans Day, on the other hand, honors those who have served in the military. It began as Armistice Day to celebrate the end of World War I—"The War to End All Wars"—and the signing of the armistice at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month. The Veterans Administration website has a brief history:
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.
By act of Congress in 1926, the president was asked to proclaim November 11 as a federal holiday, one that had been observed by 27 states, "calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples."
Armistice Day was declared a legal national holiday on May 13, 1938. Of course, World War II and then the Korean War followed within the lifetime of many who served in the "war to end all wars."
Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting in its place the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
Later that same year, on October 8th, President Dwiight D. Eisenhower issues the first "Veterans Day Proclamation."
Washington's attempt to provide a series of three-day weekends for observance of holidays failed when it came to Veterans Day, which under the realignment of a number of holidays was held on October 25, 1971. There was much confusion and consternation, so in 1975 President Gerald R. Ford signed legislation returning Veterans Day to November 11, beginning in 1978.
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.
More about Veterans Day:
See the full article on Veterans Day at the VA website (www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/vetdayhistory.asp). Also see articles on History.com (www.history.com/topics/holidays/history-of-veterans-day) and the U.S. Army Center of Military History (www.history.army.mil/html/reference/holidays/vetsday/vetshist.html).
For articles on SeniorLifestyle that relate to veterans and Veterans Day, use the Article Search, to find all articles on the topic "Veterans." You can modify the search form to explore other options.
Stu Johnson is principal of Stuart Johnson & Associates, a communications consultancy in Wheaton, Illinois. He is publisher and editor of SeniorLifestyle, writes the InfoMatters blog on his own website and contributes articles for SeniorLifestyle.• Author bio (website*) • E-mail the author (moc.setaicossajs@uts*) • Author's website (personal or primary**)
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