Outtakes Around the Lakes: Wish a veteran well this Veterans Day
Not all federally recognized holidays are recognized equally by the public. There are 10. New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Day, Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Of those 10, New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas seem to be at the top of the list (not necessarily in that order) and receive the most attention. The remaining five, including one we celebrate every Nov. 11, Veterans Day, are not celebrated as equally with the rest as they well should be.
While it is also referred to as Armistice Day (for the 11th hour, month and day marking the end of World War I in 1918 when the armistice with Germany went into effect), it matters not whether they are a living veteran or if they gave their life for the cause, Veterans Day gives us the opportunity to pause in our busy daily lives and remember the men and women who sacrificed some years of their lives so the rest of us could continue to live in a state of freedom. Better yet, it allows us to personally thank a veteran for the time they spent in the Armed Services to assure not only us, but also our off-spring that that treasured freedom each and everyone of us so deeply cherish will continue to prevail in the good ol' USA.
On the first anniversary of Veterans Day, President Woodrow Wilson said, “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 nations.”
In his Armistice Day address to Congress, Wilson was sensitive to the psychological toll of the lean war years put on the nation. "Hunger does not breed reform,” he remarked. “It breeds madness."
“Out of this victory there arose new possibilities of political freedom and economic concert. The war showed us the strength of great nations acting together for high purposes, and the victory of arms foretells the enduring conquests which can be made in peace when nations act justly and in furtherance of the common interests of men.”
The United States Congress adopted a resolution on June 4, 1926, requesting President Calvin Coolidge to issue annual proclamations observing November 11 with appropriate ceremonies. A Congressional Act approved May 13, 1938 made each November 11 a legal holiday.
It became Veterans Day when WWII veteran Raymond Weeks from Birmingham, Alabama, sought to expand Armistice Day in 1945 to celebrate all veterans, not just those who died in WWI.
Weeks petitioned Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, who supported the idea of National Veterans Day. Eight and a half years later, on May 26, 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower signed a bill into law establishing the holiday through Congress and six days later, on June 1, Congress amended it, replacing the word 'Armistice' with 'Veterans'. Weeks led the first national celebration in 1947 in Alabama and annually until his death in 1985.
Take a moment or two to reflect on all those brave men and women who sacrificed their freedom so you could enjoy yours. When you see them, thank them and wish them well.
One final note. Before flooding my email claiming I misspelled Veterans, while it is commonly printed as singular possessive (Veteran's Day) and even plural possessive (Veterans' Day) on calendars and advertisements, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs website states that the attributive (no apostrophe) rather than the possessive case is the official spelling "because it is not a day that 'belongs' to veterans. It is a day for honoring all veterans."
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