American pride still exists! Perhaps as much as it did in the past, perhaps it is somewhat waning under our current political climate. However, this is not a day for political punditry. Instead, it is a day to honor the 21 million living U.S. veterans who either served or are currently keeping the wolf from America’s doors.
A question for those with hardcore American pride… Do you know why we celebrate Veterans Day on November 11? After all, we know why Christmas is on December 25, Independence Day on July 4 and so on. The answer stretches back almost a century to the truce signed between Germany and the Allies in World War I on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month (11/11/1918). Originally called Armistice Day, the first celebration on November 11, 1919 began with a two-minute stoppage at all businesses at 11:00 a.m., parades and public observances. Years later, Americans began honoring our unknown soldiers on Armistice Day; a tradition that continues today.
Unfortunately, WWI was not the “war to end all war.” After WWII and Korea, the decision was made to change Armistice Day to Veterans Day. That way, we could honor all of our Veterans from past wars and conflicts as well as those sure to happen in the future and of course our service members who served during times of peace are equally honored veterans.
Like so many issues, it only takes a Senator with an idea and a Representative with a plan—not sure which is more dangerous— to screw up an otherwise foolproof plan. This was proven in 1968 when we celebrated Veterans Day in October for seven years. Congress wanted government employees to have a long weekend and therefore thought moving Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October was a good idea. Fortunately, President Ford had the foresight to understand the significance of 11/11 and returned the observance to a day with historical significance; a day demonstrating a top priority of honoring the men and women who have served in our Armed Forces over a long weekend for some.
Veterans Day vs. Memorial Day
Not that there should be any, but to eliminate any confusion for our “younger” readers, Veterans Day is a day to honor all U.S. Veterans both living and dead; the 16.5 million living veterans who served in times of war or conflict and the 5.5 million who served in times of peace. Memorial Day, on the other hand, is a day to remember our war dead; those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation.