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Why do we celebrate a Veterans Day?

What is now Veterans Day grew out of the Armistice that ended combat in what was then called The Great War and which we refer to as World War I.  The Armistice between Germany and our allies declared that all combat would cease at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month (in 1918) or November 11 at 11:00 am, 99 years ago.

In 1919, President Wilson made Armistice Day an official day where, “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.…”

Between then and now:

Congress, in 1926 and again in 1938 passed resolutions making the day a legal holiday: “….. dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.”  By 1954, President Eisenhower signed Public Law 380 which changed the name to “Veterans Day” and the purpose to “…honor American Veterans of all wars.”   

In 1968, Public Law 90-363 moved the official observance to the nearest Monday to November 11 so that public employees could celebrate with a three day weekend.  Beginning in 1978, Public Law 94-97 returned the celebration of Veterans Day to the actual date, November 11, regardless of the day of the week upon which it falls.  It also was intended to focus on “the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

Who is a Veteran?

Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations defines a veteran as “a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.”  A veteran is further defined by federal law, moral code and military service as Any person who served for Any length of time in Any military service branch.”  In other words, any person who has served in the military should be considered a Veteran.

In general, Veterans are not looking to be put on a pedestal but all Veterans that I know do like being recognized and appreciated for having served.  Why not call a Veteran friend and let him or her know that you respect the service and sacrifice that he or she has made?

Happy Veterans Day!