If you ask 10 people what Veterans Day stands for, I suspect that more than half will say it's a time to remember those who gave their lives defending our freedoms as a member of the U.S. Armed Forces. Actually, that's the idea behind Memorial Day. On the other hand, Veterans Day is the holiday intended to celebrate and honor every man and woman, past or present, for his or her service in the military.
In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson declared November 11 as "Armistice Day" in order to commemorate the end of World War I -- which ended on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month (literally 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918). In 1938, Armistice Day became an official U.S. holiday.
In 1954, however, after a second war had engulfed the world, as well as the Korean War soon after that, President Dwight Eisenhower changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day. In the official proclamation, he stated that on November 11 each year:
... let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.
Our country takes great and deserved care of its honored military dead. We, its citizens, who daily reap the benefits of the freedoms that so many brave men and women have sacrificed to preserve and protect, should likewise take great and deliberate care to express our gratitude.
So, please, make sure you thank a vet on Veterans Day!
How did you thank a veteran this Veterans Day? Please share in the comments section below.
Photo © Chris Raymond