A Brief History of Veterans Day

Good Morning Everyone and Happy Veterans Day!

It has come to my attention that a great many people know absolutely nothing about Veterans Day, so I figured today of all days is especially appropriate. The awesome date 11/11/11 will not soon return to us (definitely not while I’m alive) and so that makes today a little more special.

The origins of Veterans Day actually date back to the end of World War I. The hostilities of the “War to End All Wars” came to a screeching halt on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month… for you date-challenged folks, that was 11:00 AM on November 11, 1918! The war did not technically end until the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. Click below to learn more.

  • 1921 – Congress passes legislation for creation of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, and the ceremony was held on November 11th. That day then became a federal holiday for remembering our veterans.
  • 1941-1953 – World War 2 and the Korean War take its toll on America, creating a new generation of honored veterans.
  • 1948 – 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (“The Old Guard”) begins guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
  • 1954 – President Eisenhower (the same general from World War 2) signed legislation that changed the name of the day from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.
  • 1978 – The modern acceptance of Veterans Day enacted for both the federal and state governments.

So there’s Veterans Day in a nutshell, but how does that affect you as Americans?

Some very dear friends of mine recently had me over for dinner, and I met their daughter who has done her fair share of time in the U.S. Army. Often, we think of veterans as grizzled old men who talk about the good old days, and tend to brush past the younger crowd of returning military servicemen. It was kind of a wake-up call that their daughter has also made a huge sacrifice in serving our country, something I can’t say that I’ve done. I like to think that I contribute to society, but what have I sacrificed? It really gives you a new sense of appreciation for everything our military does for us everyday and for how little appreciation we show for it…

Perhaps the most somber and special remembrance of those who have died for our country is at Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The tomb is guarded 24/7/365 by a special unit called “The Old Guard” who have dedicated their lives to honoring and remembering their fallen comrades. The oath that they take can be found below. Why don’t we remember those who died for us with the same commitment?

The Sentinels Creed

My dedication to this sacred duty is total and wholehearted.
In the responsibility bestowed on me never will I falter.
And with dignity and perseverance my standard will remain perfection.
Through the years of diligence and praise and the discomfort of the elements,
I will walk my tour in humble reverence to the best of my ability.
It is he who commands the respect I protect.
His bravery that made us so proud.
Surrounded by well-meaning crowds by day alone in the thoughtful peace of night,
this soldier will in honored glory rest under my eternal vigilance.

Perhaps we honor their memory by living our lives to the fullest, but how often do we criticize our armed forces instead of telling them how proud we are of them? Do we tell them how much we appreciate everything they’ve sacrificed? Do we do their sacrifice justice by keeping their memory alive in remembrance?

I recently attended a Reno Wind Symphony concert with a Veterans theme and it’s all I could do to not stand up and cheer over the emotion and pride of being an American, especially in remembering the sacrifices others have made. A phenomenal arrangement of the “Medley to our Armed Forces” and our national march instilled a wonderful sense of national pride and excitement. If you don’t experience that you need to have your pulse checked!

There’s something amazing about hearing our armed forces represented through music (must be the musician in me).

A

For my part, I thank all of the Veterans who laid down their lives (whether in death or in commitment) to make our country great. The cost of freedom seems to increase every year, and we often lose track of the principles that our founding fathers established the United States with. Our national motto has always been In God We Trust .. I feel like the trying times for our country have only just begun… perhaps we need to rediscover that trust.

Here’s some great references if you’re interested in further reading:

Advertisements

4 Comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s