World War I officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919. However, the conflict really ended with the German signing of the Armistice at 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. Today it is celebrated as Veterans Day.
According to Wikipedia: “Veterans Day is an annual American holiday honoring military veterans. It is a federal holiday, and a state holiday in all 50 states, usually celebrated on November 11. It is also celebrated as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in other parts of the world.“
It was first celebrated as Armistice Day. President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed Armistice Day as November 11th, in 1919. The United States Congress passed a resolution seven years later on June 4, 1926, requesting the President issue another proclamation to observe November 11 with appropriate ceremonies. An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday; “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day’.”
Then in 1953, an Emporia, Kansas shoe store owner named Al King had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans, not just those who served in World War I. King had been actively involved with the American War Dads during World War II. He began a campaign to turn Armistice Day into “All” Veterans Day. The Emporia Chamber of Commerce took up the cause after determining that 90% of Emporia merchants as well as the Board of Education supported closing their doors on November 11, 1953, to honor veterans. With the help of then - U.S. Rep. Ed Rees, also from Emporia, a bill for the holiday was pushed through Congress. President Dwight Eisenhower signed it into law on May 26, 1954. Congress amended this act on Nov. 8, 1954, replacing “Armistice” with Veterans, and it has since been known as Veterans Day.
Today, Nov. 11, is the special day we honor the men and women that served in the Armed Forces of the United States of America. Those that served at any time, whether in conflict or times of peace are honored today. Many communities have parades, ceremonies, or other celebrations on this day. All these “parties” are appropriate to commemorate the service and sacrifice of our sons or daughters, fathers or mothers, brothers or sisters, other family, friends or even strangers. I hope you celebrate today. I will in my own way.
Many veterans have died, some have been injured, some have not seen combat at all. But all are to be honored and respected. They should not be forgotten. They cannot be forgotten because America, the world is a better place, because of their service.
Veterans organizations today serve the needs of the Veterans and active duty members of United State military services. Organizations such as: Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), American Legion, Marine Corps League, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), AmVets, 40 et 8, Noncommissioned Officers Associations (NCOA), and the Retired Officers Association, to name only a few. Wikipedia lists 89 US veteran’s service organizations, some with very specific missions and membership requirements. Organizations such as the VFW, requiring the members to have served in or have directly supported combat actions on foreign soil. Some are much more specific even than that.
All of these organizations work to ensure that military veterans receive recognition and benefits because of their service. Their service was to protect American soil, American citizens, and the American way of life. When you see these organizations or hear of them, remember what they stand for.
Veterans Day is the special day we honor and remember all U.S. veterans, but it is not the only day they should be remembered. There is a well-known saying referring to veterans: “All gave some. Some gave all.” Veterans should be honored and remembered every day, because the world is a better place for their service. But especially today at 11 a.m., please take a moment to remember these brave Americans that served their country. Our country.
I, for one, would serve again. I would gladly fight again. I was once willing to die for America, and would be willing again. The United States of America is our country, the greatest country on Earth.
God Bless America.
Jim Daly is commander of the Aberdeen Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 224