Veteran’s Day

| November 11, 2012

Today is Veteran’s Day.  And it’s a good time to reflect not only on service, but on how we as a nation have honored it.

Until relatively recently we really didn’t do such a good job of doing that as a nation.  Historically, we did a decent job of remembering and honoring those who died – but not so much those who served and lived.

Veteran’s Day is actually one of the youngest US holidays.  And it’s purpose was not always what we celebrate today.

In fact, what we today celebrate as Veteran’s Day on 11 November was not originally even called Veteran’s Day.  It also was not originally a holiday to celebrate the service of all US military veterans.

In its original incarnation, it was Armistice Day.  Its original purpose was to commemorate the “heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory” in World War I.

The holiday’s purpose, but not its name, was again changed in 1938 when Congress formally declared Armistice Day a Federal holiday.  Now the purpose of the holiday was “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace”.  The date remained fixed as 11 November.

The current Veteran’s Day owes its existence to one Raymond Weeks of Birmingham, Alabama.  In 1945, Weeks – a World War II veteran – began a campaign to change the purpose of the holiday then called Armistice Day to a day honoring the service of all US military veterans.  In 1954, Congress did so, and also changed the name of the holiday to “Veteran’s Day”.  The date of 11 November was retained.

Weeks was honored by President Reagan in 1982 for being the driving force behind the creation of today’s Veteran’s Day.  Reagan honored Weeks via presenting him the Presidential Citizenship Medal – the nation’s second-highest civilian decoration.

Veteran’s Day is one of the four US Federal holidays with a fixed date – 11 November.  (The other three are New Year’s Day, the Fourth of July, and Christmas.  The other Federal holidays have fixed calendar slots – e.g., Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday in November – but not fixed dates.)  Veteran’s Day is being observed this year on Monday solely due to the longstanding policy of observing a Federal holiday the preceding day (Friday) when a fixed-date holiday falls on a Saturday and the following day (Monday) when a fixed date holiday falls on a Sunday.

Best Veteran’s Day wishes to all of TAH’s readers.  And special thanks to all Veterans who have served honorably.

Category: Historical, Military issues, Veterans Issues

Comments (13)

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  1. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    Happy Veterans’s Day to all those who truly qualify by definition and as Hodo pointed out served honorably.

    This year is my first Veteran’s Day as a Retired Veteran and I feel good about that!

    Thousands of Veteran’s are assisting in the clean up in New York in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. It is all over the news today up here. I am neither surprized at the gesture or doubt that they will do more in one day than most can do in a week!

  2. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    Hodo = Hondo … sorry!

  3. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month!

    A simple telegram of three lines brought us the great news:

    At eleven o’clock today in accordance with the terms of the armistice, firing ceased on the American front.

    That was 1100 hours on November 11, 1918.

    Here is a very good 3 minute YouTube Video about the last hours and minutes of World War I:

  4. B Woodman says:

    After seeing the results of this election, all I can think of this day is the scriptural reference (I’m not even going to try to quote) ‘For the people draw near to me with their lips, yet their hearts are far from me.’

  5. OWB says:

    This is a day when I am sorely conflicted. I remember those who served with us. I remember those who served on our behalf; those long gone and those who survived. And I remember men like my uncle who were not allowed to serve because they held civilian positions deemed more important than anything they could have done in uniform.

    It’s all about service – answering a call to something higher than self. So while there are specific definitions of who is a veteran, there are many others who also served either individual members of the military or served us all in some capacity.

    Today I cannot help but feel the connection to all who served. Today my definition of “veteran,” at least within my heart, includes everyone who wore the uniform and all who supported us.

    May we each find a way to express our gratitude this day Veterans Day 2012. Thank you all.

  6. Ex-PH2 says:

    Let’s not forget the dogs of war, from World War II, Korea and Vietnam to the Middle East.

    Nor should we forget the carrier pigeons that ran messages from the front to HQ during WWII. This one never got through.

  7. Ex-PH2 #6: None can argue with your contention, however, perhaps we need some form of recognition other than Veteran’s Day to acknowledge their sacrifices?

    Not gonna employ Google-fu just now, but I (think I) recall a day set as aside to recognize the critters.

  8. Ex-PH2 says:

    I know that the UK and US both have war medals for animals that served in the wars, but I don’t know about a “war critters” day. I’ll see if I can find anything out.

    If and when the pigeon’s message is decoded, I will announce it.

  9. Redacted1775 says:

    Airborne military working dogs!

    I think this method is much better than the one used in the 1940’s where they tossed the dog out of a plane hooked to a static line:

  10. Ex-PH2 says:

    This is the text of the poem:

    Anthem For Doomed Youth

    What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
    Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
    Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
    Can patter out their hasty orisons.
    No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
    Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,
    The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
    And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
    What candles may be held to speed them all?
    Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
    Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
    The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
    Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
    And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

    Wilfred Owen

  11. Casey says:

    Thank you; all of you, who have served. I would buy all of you a drink if I could, and I had POTUS Barry’s expense account.

    B Woodman @4, something else comes to mind for me; Kipling’s Gods of the Copybook Headings.

  12. Ex-PH2 says:

    Don’t know if any of you even look at the Sunday funnies, but I do. Here’s something from B.C., by Mastroiannie and Hart:

    A Poem by Willy

    And once we vet
    The greater threat
    Distant though it be,
    They took their oars
    To foreign shores

    Sitting here
    Beside my beer
    Shaded by my tree,
    Gives me pause
    To take a pause…

    For them I sit here free…..