Saturday, November 11, 2006

Veteran's Day

Article I of the Military Code of Conduct, states: "I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense."

On this Veteran's Day, we are charged with honoring those who defend us, our freedoms and our way of life. There's no easy, or concise way, to demonstrate the depth of our appreciation to those who gave up so much to serve our country. The simple words, "thank you," seem so insignificant for what the men and women in uniform commit to doing. So I borrow the words of Walt Whitman:

The moon gives you light,
And the bugles and the drums give you music,
And my heart, O my soldiers, my veterans,
My heart gives you love.

To my father, brother and father-in-law who served in the Navy, as well as to all Veterans, thank you!

Below are some quotes particularly suited for this day, followed by the History of Veteran's Day - what it means and why we celebrate on November 11th. And if you'd like to see something impressive, watch the Navy Ceremonial Drill team here.


As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

It is easy to take liberty for granted, when you have never had it taken from you. ~Dick Cheney

In war, there are no unwounded soldiers. ~José Narosky

But fame is theirs - and future days
On pillar'd brass shall tell their praise;
Shall tell - when cold neglect is dead -
"These for their country fought and bled."
~Philip Freneau

When our perils are past, shall our gratitude sleep? ~George Canning

Valor is stability, not of legs and arms, but of courage and the soul. ~Michel de Montaigne

We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude. ~Cynthia Ozick

Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die. ~G.K. Chesterton

In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot. ~Mark Twain, Notebook, 1935


World War I, then normally referred to simply as The Great War (no one could imagine any war being greater!), ended with the implementation of an armistice [temporary cessation of hostilities—in this case until the final peace treaty, the infamous Treaty of Versailles, was signed in 1919] between the Allies and Germany at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of November, 1918.

November 11: President Wilson proclaims the first Armistice Day with the following words: "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 us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…" The original concept for the celebration was for the suspension of business for a two minute period beginning at 11 A.M., with the day also marked by parades and public mettings.

Congress passes legislation approving the establishment of a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. November 11 is chosen for the date of the ceremony. According on October 20, Congress declares November 11, 1921 a legal Federal holiday to honor all those who participated in the war. The ceremony was conducted with great success.

Congress adopts a resolution directing the President to issue an annual proclamation calling on the observance of Armistice Day. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, most states establish November 11 as a legal holiday and at the Federal level, an annual proclamation is issued by the President.

Congress passes legislation on May 13 making November 11 a legal Federal holiday, Armistice Day. The United States has no ‘actual’ national holidays because the states retain the right to designate their own holidays. The Federal government can in fact only designate holidays for Federal employees and for the District of Columbia. But in practice the states almost always follow the Federal lead in designation of holidays.

1941- 1945
1950- 1953
World War II and the Korean War create millions of additional war veterans in addition to those of the First World War already honored by Armistice Day.

On June 1, President Eisenhower signs legislation changing the name of the legal holiday from Armistice Day to Veteran’s Day.

Congress passes the Monday Holiday Law which established the fourth Monday in October as the new date for the observance of Veteran’s Day. The law is to take effect in 1971.

The Federal observance of Veterans Day is held on the fourth Monday of October. Initially all states follow suit except Mississippi and South Dakota. Other states changed their observances back to November 11 as follows: 1972- Louisiana and Wisconsin; 1974- Kentucky, Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, South Carolina, West Virginia; 1975- California, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming

Legislation passed to return the Federal observance of Veteran’s Day to November 11, based on popular support throughout the nation. Since the change to the fourth Monday in October, 46 states had either continued to commemorate November 11 or had reverted back to the original date based on popular sentiment. The law was to take effect in 1978.

Veteran’s Day observance reverts to November 11.


Do said...

I just looked at the picture that has stayed on my refrigerator for 30 years of my dad when he was in the military. He was young, lean, fair haired and full of life. The picture was taken just after the Invasion at Normandy.

While he never fussed about going into the military, nor serving his country, he did take it personal when someone would attempt to condemn the actions of war. As he always told people, "Soldiers follow orders. If you want to be angry with someone, be angry with the upper ranks and the bosses they answer to."

50 years after that picture was taken he succumbed to brain cancer, a by-product of working around asbestos for 30 years. He will always be, for me, my personal hero.

-Sepp said...

I attended a formal dinner last night where there were maybe 500 or so people. During a speech, all the vetrans were asked to stand up and be recognized. I was kind of surprised to see that out of that 500 people, there were at the very most, 15-20 of us standing.

Hooda Thunkit said...

What a wonderful piece Maggie!

I didn't realize that there were so many separate changes connected with this holiday observance, even though I lived through roughly half of it.

That was very thought provoking.

And a special thanks to all veterans everywhere, especially those who paid the ultimate price for what we give so little thought to.

Maggie Thurber said...

-sepp, thanks for your service and for those others who were at your dinner.

Did you know that historically, nwo has a higher percentage of veterans per capita than other areas of the country? I think that's something to be proud of.

Hooda - thanks!

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