Veterans Day celebrates all who served our country honorably in both war and peace.
According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day and observed the anniversary of the end of World War I, Nov. 11, 1919. This day has continued as a celebration of those who served our country. It was declared a national holiday in 1938, and the name change became official in 1954.
Armistice Day was made a national holiday “to be dedicated to the cause of world peace,” according to the USDVA.
There has been so much fighting and hostility throughout the world since this day, so it is a nice reminder of what should be the ultimate goal.
In 1971, Congress moved the date of Veterans Day to October following the Uniform Holiday Bill. The thought process was that moving some of the national holidays to a Monday would allow people a chance to travel and extend celebrations over the three-day weekend. There was a great deal of confusion the following years about when to celebrate the holiday.
Gerald Ford, when he was president, passed a law to move Veterans Day back to Nov. 11 in 1975. That date, in his opinion, held too much historical significance.
The USDVA notes another reason for the shift back to Nov. 11. The organization reports having the holiday on such an important day helps focus attention on the purpose of Veterans Day — to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.
In his address on the first Armistice Day, then-President Woodrow Wilson said, “Out of this victory there arose new possibilities of political freedom and economic concert. The war showed us the strength of great nations acting together for high purposes, and the victory of arms foretells the enduring conquests which can be made in peace when nations act justly and in furtherance of the common interests of men.”
International relations are more important now than ever and we need to cultivate positive relations with our fellow humans in this world.
Today’s world seems to seethe with tension across many countries. There is discussion among American citizens about the possibility of another “great war.” Some people I have spoken with feel war is imminent — and it scares them.
Why can’t we all take a collective deep, cleansing breath and remember back to the moment that inspired the first Armistice Day when world leaders hoped for peace?
The United States is not the only country to celebrate this occasion.
According to history.com, Great Britain, France, Australia and Canada also commemorate the veterans of World War I and World War II on or near Nov. 11. Canada has Remembrance Day, while Britain celebrates Remembrance Sunday on the second Sunday of November.
In Great Britain and the commonwealth countries, it is common to observe two minutes of silence 11 a.m. every Nov. 11 to honor and remember those who fought for the common good.
Let us all come together this Nov. 11 and not only celebrate those who fought for our freedoms and served our country, but also remember the motivation behind the original holiday.
At the risk of sounding like a beauty pageant contestant — why can’t we just have world peace?