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Veteran’s Day

While there are many holidays that celebrate the American spirit, arguably the holiday that best reflects the needs of a nation is the annual Veteran’s Day holiday.  Veteran’s Day is a time where the members of the armed forces who engaged in conflict as representatives of this country are given the respect that they properly deserved.  Every November 11th since 1919 has been set aside to honor both those living and dead who are instrumental in providing the conveniences that we are so able to enjoy.

The roots of Veteran’s Day can be traced back to the end of World War I.  On November 11, 1918 of this horrific war, an armistice was signed in the Forest of Copiegne between the Allied Forces and the German government.  This armistice called for all firing to cease, which resulted in the end of this long four-year war.  Considering that this was the most vicious war that American soldiers had fought in for their generation, the news of the armistice led to spontaneous celebrations.  Of course, this was felt throughout the world and November 11th became a very important day.

A year later, President Woodrow Wilson issued his Armistice Day proclamation in which he made this memorable quote: ”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 up and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nation.”

Armistice Day would be celebrated in the years to come but it was not until 1938 that Congress passed a bill declaring Armistice Day to be an annual national holiday.  The wording of this bill reflects the over riding spirit of Veterans’ Day by stating that each November 11 ”shall be dedicated to the cause of world peace.”  Armistice Day continued to be a tradition, although its name would change following World War II.  Due to this war and future wars, new veterans had little to no association with World War I and Armistice Day seemed to have neglected their contributions to America.

To rectify this situation, the Kansas city of Emporia celebrated a Veterans Day observance instead of an Armistice Day program in 1953.  The popularity of this move was immediate and on May 24, 1954, Congress passed legislation to change the name of Armistice Day to Veteran’s Day.

Despite the name change, Veteran’s Day continues to resonate with the same spirit.  At a time of conflict and war, Veteran’s Day is a time where families can come together and look at what’s really important in life.  The optimistic date of Veteran’s Day is a constant reminder that world peace is a goal that should be doggedly pursued.  It’s an important lesson that should be taught every year and one that parent’s should enjoy teaching their kid’s.  By making a commitment to peace every Veteran’s Day, we are truly honoring those who have fought so hard to protect our freedom.