A Look at Veterans Day
A Look at Veterans Day
By Angel Wyrwas
Q. Which is the correct spelling of Veterans Day?
a. Veterans Day
b. Veteran’s Day
c. Veterans’ Day
A. Veterans Day (choice a, above). Veterans Day does not include an apostrophe but does include an “s” at the end of “veterans” because it is not a day that “belongs” to veterans, it is a day for honoring all veterans.
Most American holidays have gone through multiple levels of change along their way to being the holidays that we currently celebrate and Veterans Day is no exception. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says that World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” – officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”
In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of 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 Department of Veterans Affairs says that the original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m.
It wasn’t until May of 1938 that the 11th of November became a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.” Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I.
Then came World War II. A war that had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history. So at the urging of the veterans service organizations, the 83rd Congress amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans.” November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
For many years, Veterans Day was part of the Uniform Holiday Bill. The bill was intended to ensure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. It was thought that these extended weekends would encourage travel, recreational and cultural activities and stimulate greater industrial and commercial production.
The Department of Veterans Affairs says that the commemoration of this day on the true November 11 date was a matter of historic and patriotic significance to a great number of citizens. Because of this, President Gerald R. Ford returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978. This action supported the desires of the overwhelming majority of state legislatures, all major veterans’ service organizations and the American people.
Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.
The day offers parents and teachers an opportunity to teach children about American history. People can celebrate Veterans Day by going to a local band or choral concert featuring patriotic music, by taking part in a flag raising ceremony, or by joining in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag and singing of the National Anthem.
Some people participate in a moment of silence in remembrance of those who gave their lives for their country. The moment usually begins at 11 a.m. and continues for two minutes in honor of deceased veterans. Another way to celebrate is to visit a veteran or send letters of thanks to veterans in your area.
A visit to the Fallon County Veterans Memorial in the city park is another way to acknowledge Veterans Day. With approximately 1700 names of local veterans, dating back to the Civil War and through to the present, it is a tangible way to see how many veterans, right here, we have to thank for their service.