Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Commemorating America's Finest on Veterans' Day

When we assumed the Soldier, we did not lay aside the Citizen; and we shall most sincerely rejoice with you in the happy hour when the establishment of American Liberty, upon the most firm and solid foundations shall enable us to return to our Private Stations in the bosom of a free, peacefully and happy Country.

-George Washington June 26, 1775

The origins of Veterans' Day reach back nearly 100 years, though today what its remembrance encapsulates extends back more than 230 years. World War I ended on June 28, 1919 when the Treaty of Versailles was signed. However, armistice was agreed upon between the United States and France on November 11, 1918. A year later, President Wilson signed a commemoration of "Armistice Day" stating:
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…

An official recognition of Armistice Day was acknowledged by Congress on June 4, 1926. In 1938, it was designated a legal holiday, and in 1954, "Armistice Day" became known as "Veterans Day" to commemorate the veterans of all wars. President Eisenhower stated:
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.

Efforts were made to commemorate Veterans' Day as part of a three day weekend. However, it now remains on November 11th regardless of what day of the week it falls on as a reminder of what day was essentially the end of World War I. Let us take today to remember those American men and women who have fought for our freedoms and defended our liberties across 4 centuries in wars ranging from the War for Independence to the Spanish American War to World War II to the current day action in Afghanistan. Thank you.

Crossposted here.

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