Remembering Veterans

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, One Writer's Journal

This wall holds the names of veterans in our community.

This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave. ~ Elmer Davis

Do you know why we celebrate veterans on November 11? I like finding out the history behind holidays, so I did a little research.

In 1921, an unknown World War I soldier was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Similar ceremonies occurred in England and France, where an unknown soldier was buried at each nation’s highest place of honor. These memorial gestures all took place on November 11 in recognition to the celebrated ending of World War I fighting at 11 a.m., November 11, 1918 (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month). The day became known as“Armistice Day.”

The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words:

Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and

Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and

Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation 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.

An act of Congress made Armistice Day a legal holiday in 1938. The men who fought in World War I thought it would be “the war to end all wars.” If that hope had been realized, November 11 might still be called Armistice Day, but only a few years after the holiday was proclaimed, war broke out in Europe. Over 16 million Americans eventually took part in World War II. 407,000 of them died in service, more than 292,000 in battle.

So at the request of veterans’ service organizations, the U.S. Congress amended the original 1938 act and changed the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day. After President Eisenhower signed the legislation, November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

In 1971, Veterans’ Day was changed to the fourth Monday in October. This met with such confusion and resistance that President Ford signed a law in 1975 to return the holiday to November 11. That date simply had too much historical and patriotic significance to be changed.
Today we recognized the veterans at our church as did many other churches. We have a couple of Vietnam War vets in our congregation. I overhead one of them thanking the other one, who was part of a helicopter crew, for his service. He said the helicopter guys had a special place in his heart. You can imagine how the helicopters coming to the aid of the ground forces might feel like the cavalry riding in to the rescue.
If you served in the armed forces, thank you.