This week everyone will get to celebrate Veteran’s Day. For most they are just excited to be off from work on extra day. For others this is a solemn celebration. For everyone it should be a time of remembrance for all who have fought in the many wars that have marked our nation’s history.
Veteran’s Day, originally called Armistice Day marks the end of World War I. The fighting stopped on the eleventh day of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour. We have all heard of the Treaty of Versailles that ended WWI, but what people don’t know is that the fighting had actually stopped seven months before this treaty was signed (on the eleventh day of the eleventh month in the eleventh hour). This was in 1918.
President Wilson proclaimed November 11th Armistice Day in 1919 and that “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 council of the nations.”
Finally on May 13, 1938, the 11th day of November was approved by Congress as an official holiday called Armistice Day. After World War II, the day was changed to Veteran’s Day to celebrate the veterans from both wars and the sacrifices they made.
So when did we begin having the day off?
After much confusion over the celebration of the day, the first observance of the day was in 1971. The day was supposed to encourage employees to take long weekends by having off on the Monday closest to it. The other holidays placed in this category were – Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, and Columbus Day. Unfortunately many still celebrated them on their real dates.
Finally, the government agreed that Veteran’s Day remain on November 11 to commemorate the official cessation of fighting. The historical significance of the date was important to veterans and should be remembered as such. This is why Veteran’s Day is celebrated on November 11th each year.
When you are off this Friday, take time to remember the veterans in your life and those you do not know. When you see them, thank them for making the sacrifice to fight for their country. Without the men and women who volunteered to fight, our country would not be here, we would not have the freedoms we so dearly cherish, and most of all we would not be known as the great nation we are. Instead of sleeping in – take time to visit a veteran in your life and say Thank You. If you don’t know one, visit a nursing facility in your neighborhood and, I guarantee you will find a man or woman who served their country there.
And, most importantly, on the eleventh hour of this eleventh day of the eleventh month – stop what you are doing. Say the pledge. Sing the National Anthem. We are proud to be Americans.