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NOVEMBER 2014 - Veterans Day

by Major Robert “Bob” Edelbrock, Ed.D., (USMC, Retired)

Each year on November 11 we celebrate Veterans Day as a way to honor and show our respect for those brave men and women who have risked their lives in the service of our country. America was founded on the principles of freedom, liberty, and justice for all. Our nation’s military serve every day in order to protect and preserve our country and its ideals. On this day, we take a moment to remember those who stand tall and show their willingness to sacrifice their lives in order to preserve peace and democracy.

National ceremonies are held every year at the memorial amphitheater built around the Tomb of the Unknowns to observe and memorialize Veterans Day. At exactly 11 am on November 11, a color guard representing all military services executes “Present Arms” at the tomb. The presidential wreath is then laid upon the tomb and at the conclusion, the bugler plays taps.

Veterans Day was formerly known as Armistice Day and was meant to commemorate the war to end all wars, also known as the Great War or World War I. It was in 1918 on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month that the guns fell silent on both sides. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Armistice Day as the day America would honor those who died in the country’s service.

On May 13, 1938, an act of congress made the eleventh day of November a legal holiday. A day dedicated to the cause of world peace and thereafter to be celebrated as "Armistice Day." Armistice Day honored veterans of World War I, but in 1954 Congress replaced the word "Armistice" with the word "Veterans." The approval of this legislation occurred on June 1, 1954, and November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
It was later in the same year, on October 8, that President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the "Veterans Day Proclamation" and stated: "In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose.”

In 1968, the Uniforms Holiday Bill ensured three-day weekends for federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays. Veterans Day was then moved to the fourth Monday of October. The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed on October 25, 1971. On September 20, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97, which returned its original date of November 11, beginning in in 1978.

Some people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day since they are both federal holidays honoring service personnel. Veterans Day pays tribute to both war and peacetime veterans while Memorial Day honors those who died while serving our country.
Traditions vary across the country as to how people choose to observe and celebrate Veterans Day. Many cities have a ceremony while others have a parade. Families often visit local and national cemeteries, and some have family reunions and picnics. Still others serve as volunteers to place small flags on the graves of the fallen in our national cemeteries.

Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of the day of the week on which it falls. It is a day when our nation honors America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

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