On this year’s Veterans Day, my children and I will start the day off by attending the Veteran’s Day Parade here in Fayetteville. They are featuring the Vietnam-era veterans at the parade this year. Next, we’re off to an event called “Tweet for Troops,” after which we will head over to my hometown to finish off the day together with family. Hopefully this year’s Veterans Day will turn out better for us than last year’s, which I spent in the emergency room with my son (check out this blog post to read about those escapades). However we each spend our day today, we should of course remember all the veterans of every war, past and present, and the sacrifices they continue to make.
Believe it or not, some Americans actually confuse Veterans Day with Memorial Day (check out my blog post about our 2011 Memorial Day too), but it’s important to distinguish the two. I actually got “married to the military,” so to speak, without really even knowing the difference. And it wasn’t until after I met my husband that I really began to learn and appreciate the unique and distinct history of Veterans Day. I think it’s imperative that all Americans know the history of Veterans Day so that we can honor our former service members properly.
Did you know that Veterans Day was formerly known as Armistice Day? It was originally set as a legal holiday to honor the end of hostilities of World War I, which officially took place on November 11, 1918. In legislation passed in 1938, November 11 was “dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day.’” Back then, this new holiday specifically recognized and honored World War I veterans. But in 1954, Congress changed he law to allow the day to honor and recognize veterans of all wars and periods of service.
Veterans Day was actually my great-grandfather’s favorite holiday. Why, you ask? Well, because he said it was the one day that vets got to sit around telling their stories of WWI and WWII, what Fort Bragg used to be like, who the old USO stars were. My grandfather used to tell stories of the time when he was stationed in Nice, France as a payroll clerk for the U.S. Army. I really do miss hearing his stories of how it was for him and what he did. So this year, after I attend the Veteran’s Day ceremonies and parades, I will also go to the cemetery, talk with him, remember those stories quietly, and place a flag on his grave.
I think it is critally important for us as a nation to remember and recognize our veterans, as they have to live every day with the memories, some good but some also bad, of fighting our nation’s wars. To me, Veterans Day will always be celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.