1. Some people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day honors those men and women who have died in the service of their country while Veterans Day, though it honors all who have served their country, is more about honoring and thanking those living men and women who have served in our armed forces.
2. This national day was originally known as Armistice Day. It was observed on November 11 because on the 11th month, 11th day and the 11th hour in 1918 an armistice was observed until the Treaty of Versailles could be signed officially ending World War I, or The Great War as it was then known.
3. In 1938, Congress passed legislation to commemorate Armistice Day on November 11. Because World War I was thought to be “the war to end all wars,” this day was dedicated to world peace and those who had served their country during World War I.
4. In 1954, after both World War II and the Korean War had been fought, Congress changed the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day to honor all veterans of all wars.
5. Other countries also honor their veterans on or near November 11. Both Canada and Australia observe what is known as Remembrance Day on November 11, while Great Britain observes their own Remembrance Day on the Sunday nearest to November 11.
6. In 1968, there was a big push for Monday to be the day we celebrated most federal holidays. The last Monday in October was designated for Veterans Day. Because the November 11th day had so much meaning, many states continued to observe the day on November 11. Finally, President Ford signed a bill stating that beginning in 1978 Veterans Day would again be officially observed on November 11th.
7. While Veterans Day honors both those who have served in our Armed Forces during peacetime and wartime, approximately 75% of those Veterans we honor served during some type of conflict.
8. Since 2000, a National Veterans Awareness Week has been observed to emphasize “educational efforts directed at elementary and secondary school students concerning the contributions and sacrifices of veterans;” and to encourage “the people of the United States to observe National Veterans Awareness Week with appropriate educational activities.” This year the week is November 11 through November 17.
9. The Library of Congress has an ongoing project to collect first-hand accounts of Wartime stories through volunteer contributions of video, audio and written narratives. Called the Veterans History Project, its primary focus is on preservation of Veterans’ experiences for the following wars:
a. World War I
b. World War II
c. Korean War
d. Viet Nam War
e. Persian Gulf War
f. Afghanistan and Iraq Conflicts
To read more about the project or to find out how to submit your own personal wartime experiences go to http://www.loc.gov/vets/about.html.
Our heart felt thanks to all of you who have answered the call of duty to serve our country in both war and peacetime. This week and Veterans Day is a time for all of us to reflect on the honor of your personal sacrifices.
Until Next Time . . .
Note this post first published online, November 12, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online http://www.thenews-messenger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?Category=BLOGS02
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