I’m rehashing a post I wrote last year…still extremely relevant, still important…and updated to reflect this year.
Today is Veteran’s Day. November 11th, 2012.
I’m always amazed that many of my colleagues and friends, particularly those without some link to a military friend or family member, don’t truly understand what Veteran’s Day is. Or more importantly, why we celebrate it.
Many don’t appreciate, for instance, that it’s not coincidental that the holiday is celebrated on November 11th (11/11) each year. Quick history lesson: towards the end of World War I, billed as “The War to End All Wars”, the Allied nations and Germany agreed to a temporary cessation of hostilities that became effective on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Hence, 11/11 at 11:00am is the time of observation.
More contextual history: In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of 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 a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m. Armistice Day, a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace, became a legal holiday in 1938. But it was considered a day to honor veterans of WWI.
In 1954, following WWII — the largest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in US history — and the US involvement in Korea, Congress rightly amended the original act by changing the words “Armistice Day” to “Veterans Day”. And thus Veterans Day became a day to honor American veterans of all services in all wars.
So today, at 11:00am, pause for a moment to consider the sacrifices made by your military friends, and their families, as they patrol the world’s trouble spots on your behalf, far from home, wishing they were here to enjoy this recognition with their families in person. Today they are not participating in parades, knocking off early or having a three martini lunch…they’re doing hard missions that make average citizens stand in awe of their contribution, their dedication, their perseverance. Only because of their sacrifices are we able to enjoy, and take for granted, the very freedoms that make our great country unique on the world’s stage.
Happy Veteran’s Day.