Honoring those who have served this Veterans Day


    Veterans Day for many means a day off work, coupled with frustration government offices — along with many businesses — are closed, meaning utilizing that rare mid-week day off is difficult, if not impossible. And while I can certainly understand those feelings, it’s important we look outside ourselves to remember what is truly important today.
    Each year around Veterans Day and Memorial Day I write a column explaining the difference between the two holidays, as the two are often considered interchangeable.
    Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor all who are serving or who have served honorably in the military — in wartime or peacetime, including those who were killed while serving their country.
    In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank living veterans for their service, to acknowledge their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all who served — not only those who died — have sacrificed and done their duty.
    Memorial Day was first observed May 28, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
    Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle.
    Those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

    World War I — known at the time as “The Great War” — officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, Nov. 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”
    In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 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 …”
    Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a resolution June 4, 1926, with these words:
    "Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and
    “Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and
    “Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.”
    Armistice Day, as it was known, was approved May 13, 1938, making Nov. 11 a legal holiday — a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace. Armistice Day was primarily intended to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history, and after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, Congress amended the Act — at the urging of veterans service organizations — by striking the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place “Veterans.”
    With the approval of this legislation June 1, 1954, Nov. 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
    As we honor this Veterans Day, take a moment to thank those who have served our country, protecting our freedom. And from all of us at the Decatur Daily Democrat, and from this Navy mom, I say thank you. Your service has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for your service.