Heathir suggested I write a little more about my thoughts on Veteran’s Day this year. Here, as with many subjects, I’ll start with a brief history lesson.
Following World War I’s devastation, Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov 19, 1919 as “Armistice Day,” a day set aside to honor the fallen of the war and to reflect on the sacrifices made, as well as the victory achieved:
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.
Congress reaffirmed this seven years later, saying:
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;
Armistice Day was celebrated as a legal federal holiday beginning in 1938. In 1954, after World War II saw even greater moblization numbers than the first World War, and after the American involvement in the Korean War, a movement began to change Armistice Day into Veterans Day, a day in which to honor all those who have served in the Armed Forces. President Eisenhower, in the first Veteran’s Day Address, said:
In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans’ organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans’ Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible.
He then assigned that role to the Administrator of Veterans’ Affairs, and the positions have been linked since.
Many people get Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day confused. The key difference between the two holidays is that while Memorial seeks to honor the fallen and those they left behind, Veteran’s Day seeks to honor those who live on, celebrating the sacrifices they have made as well as their patriotism and dedication. Some of these people may be home, among us, while others may still be serving overseas. Regardless of where they are, today is their day. Thank them. Buy them a drink. Off to watch their children for a night so they can get out of the house. Just take a little time out of your day to honor someone that has made sacrifices for your well-being and that of the country.
To those who are serving: thank you for all that you have done and all that you continue to do. It is your steadfastness and willingness to serve this country that keeps us all safe and secure. You can never be thanked enough for what you do.
To those who have served: thank you for all you have done. Thank you for taking time out of your life to serve and defend this country from its opponents, for as Churchill said:
We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.