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Why Do We Observe Veterans Day?

Soldiers of the 353rd Infantry near a church at Stenay, Meuse in France, wait for the end of hostilities. This photo was taken at 10:58 a.m., on November 11, 1918, two minutes before the armistice ending World War I went into effect

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.” (If only it was so!)




We often hear how Freedom isn’t Free, and that there is a cost for the Freedom we enjoy in America. Like it or not, millions of Americans of all races, all creeds, all denominations have committed their lives, put their own blood on the line to preserve our way of life and defend our Constitution. Ironically, while one of the rights guaranteed us in our Constitution is the freedom to assemble (to protest) the way government is working, it is up to the people, remember “We-the-People,” to educate themselves on the candidates for the various offices, to turn out at the polls, and VOTE their conscience – not necessarily the party line, nor the way the Union bosses coerce, not even the way votes today are bought & sold with coffee and a hot dog! The ballots are private and, if properly done, well-protected by responsible Americans

The US has, in fact, been involved in many wars. Below is a list of the predominant ones. Others may be found in which we participated, but these are generally considered the crucial ones. It is, however, by no means, a complete list!

  • American Revolutionary War: September 1, 1774 – September 3, 1783
  • War of 1812: June 18, 1812 – March 23, 1815
  • Mexican–American War: April 25, 1846 – February 2, 1848
  • American Civil War: April 12, 1861 – April 9, 1865
  • Boxer Rebellion: September 28, 1899 – August 15, 1900
  • World War II: December 7, 1941 – September 2, 1945
  • Cold War: 1947–1991
  • Korean War: 1950–1953
  • Vietnam War: 1953–1975
  • Iran-Iraq War (Operation Prime Chance, Operation Nimble Archer, Operation Praying Mantis): 1987–1988
  • Invasion of Panama (Operation Just Cause): 20 December 1989 – 12 January 1990
  • Gulf War: August 2, 1990 – February 28, 1991
  • Iraqi no-fly zones: 1991–2003
  • Somali Civil War (Operation Restore Hope): 1992–1994
  • Bosnian War: 1993–1995
  • Kosovo War: March 24 – June 10, 1999
  • War on Terror (Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Freedom Eagle): October 7, 2001 – present
  • Libyan Civil War: March 19, 2011 – October 23, 2011

Why Do We Honor “Veterans”?

When you see Old Glory waving in a breeze,
When you hear the silence amongst the trees,
When you,to sleep, you lay your head ,
Your dreams can be happy, not filled with dread.

When you gaze upon a starlit night
And are not filled with constant fright
Because across the sky a star is streaking
And not a missile or mortar shell is shreaking.

When in your streets car horns are blowing
Instead of fires from bombs are glowing
When the sound of sirens means help is near
Instead of “hide until all is clear!”

When a wreath is placed in Pearl Harbor
For those still entombed in the water.
When veterans cry remembering this
And all the friends, forever, they’ll miss.

When no one speaks while at “The Wall”
Where tears come freely to the small and tall.
Know that group of veterans wouldn’t quit,
Even though Americans upon them did spit.

When young ones ask about the flags
Placed gracefully over cemetary tags.
You tell them that veterans answered the call,
To keep us safe, one and all.

When a lump in your throat rises as “Taps” is played,
And a loved one, to rest, is laid.
This veteran’s sacrifice did ensure,
That America’s freedom would endure.

We honor our veterans because for their own reasons,
they chose to serve this country.
We honor them because without them,
this country wouldn’t be what it is today.
It may not be perfect,
but there isn’t a greater place on Earth to live.

Author: Ezra W. Sides
MMC(SW), USN(Retired)
11/09/05

History of Veterans’ Day

1918

World War I, then normally referred to simply as The Great War (no one could imagine any war being greater!), ended with the implementation of an armistice [temporary cessation of hostilities-in this case until the final peace treaty, the infamous Treaty of Versailles, was signed in 1919] between the Allies and Germany at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of November, 1918.

1919

November 11: President Wilson proclaims the first 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 the suspension of business for a two minute period beginning at 11 A.M., with the day also marked by parades and public mettings.

1920

On the second anniversary of the armistice, France and the United Kingdom hold ceremonies honoring their unknown dead from the war. In America, at the suggestion of church groups, President Wilson names the Sunday nearest Armistice Day Sunday, on which should be held services in the interest of international peace.

1921

Congress passes legislation approving the establishment of a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. November 11 is chosen for the date of the ceremony. According on October 20, Congress declares November 11, 1921 a legal Federal holiday to honor all those who participated in the war. The ceremony was conducted with great success.

1926

Congress adopts a resolution directing the President to issue an annual proclamation calling on the observance of Armistice Day. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, most states establish November 11 as a legal holiday and at the Federal level, an annual proclamation is issued by the President.

1938

Congress passes legislation on May 13 making November 11 a legal Federal holiday, Armistice Day. The United States has no ‘actual’ national holidays because the states retain the right to designate their own holidays. The Federal government can in fact only designate holidays for Federal employees and for the District of Columbia. But in practice the states almost always follow the Federal lead in designation of holidays.

1941- 1945 & 1950- 1953

World War II and the Korean War create millions of additional war veterans in addition to those of the First World War already honored by Armistice Day.

1954

On June 1, President Eisenhower signs legislation changing the name of the legal holiday from Armistice Day to Veteran’s Day.

1968

Congress passes the Monday Holiday Law which established the fourth Monday in October as the new date for the observance of Veteran’s Day. The law is to take effect in 1971.

1971-1975

The Federal observance of Veterans Day is held on the fourth Monday of October. Initially all states follow suit except Mississippi and South Dakota. Other states changed their observances back to November 11 as follows: 1972- Louisiana and Wisconsin; 1974- Kentucky, Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, South Carolina, West Virginia; 1975- California, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming

1975

Legislation passed to return the Federal observance of Veteran’s Day to November 11, based on popular support throughout the nation. Since the change to the fourth Monday in October, 46 states had either continued to commemorate November 11 or had reverted back to the original date based on popular sentiment. The law was to take effect in 1978.

1978

Veteran’s Day observance reverts to November 11.

U.S. and troops gather in the courtyard of the Joint Operations Center for a tribute to Veterans Day on Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, Nov. 11, 2011. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ken Scar

A hearty THANKS to all who served,
and all who serve today! THANK YOU!


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