We’ll see the Stars and Stripes, the red and blue and the ceremonies. But let’s stop momentarily, and investigate the important roots of this special holiday of remembrance we know as Veterans Day.
On the 11th day of the 11th hour of the 11th month of 1918, World War I officially ended as the Germans signed the armistice that inspired the 1919 proclamation of Armistice Day.
Understandably, the allied world dubbed the 11th day of November a day of remembrance of the fallen soldiers that fought throughout the first World War.
In the U.S., President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11, 1919, a national holiday, 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.”
In 1938, a congressional act approved President Calvin Coolidge’s proclamation to turn Armistice Day into a legal holiday “dedicated to the cause of world peace.”
Fast forward to 1954, and President Dwight Eisenhower helped propel a bill through Congress proposing a shift to “Veterans Day” in light of World War II vet Raymond Weeks’ decade-long ambitions to recognize not only those who died in World War I, but all veterans.
So since June 1, 1954, Americans have celebrated that which we know as Veterans Day.
President Ronald Reagan even awarded Weeks the 1982 Presidential Citizenship Medal in honor of his vision and drive.
So there’s the history, but let’s connect the dots.
Veterans Day, since its birth, serves to remember the sacrifice and lives of soldiers beyond and including the U.S.
Nationalism and pride are a worthy cause, but throughout its growth, Armistice Day — and ultimately Veterans Day — fundamentally serves as a means dedicated to the cause of world peace.
We can’t lose sight of that.
Victory and pride are explicitly rooted in this day of remembrance. But as much as it is a reflection on the past, it is equally a day of honoring our future with an inherent sense of opportunity, sympathy and gratitude for all who serve and with a special regard to peace and opportunity for those still in need the world over.
Fly our flag and shine in our colors, but keep the world in your heart and go out of your way to thank a vet.
Do it every day. It can be as simple as a handshake, or as subtle as a head nod.
Just let our veterans know their service does not go in vain, unnoticed or unappreciated.