Veterans Day

2018 marks the Centennial Commemoration of the end of World War I on November 11, 1918.

Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, was originally set as a U.S. legal holiday to honor the end of World War I, which officially took place on November 11, 1918. In legislation that was passed in 1938, November 11 was “dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day.'” As such, this new legal holiday honored World War I veterans.

In 1954, after having been through both World War II and the Korean War, the 83rd U.S. Congress — at the urging of the veterans service organizations — amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, Nov. 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

The term “armistice” means a cessation of hostilities as a prelude to peace negotiations. In the context of the First World War ‘the armistice’ is generally referred to as the agreement between the Germans and the Allies to end the World War 1. In a railway carriage in the middle of the picturesque woods of Compiègne, fifty miles north-east of Paris the armistice was signed at 5 am on the 11th November; it was agreed that it would come into effect at 11am that same day. Hence the guns fell silent at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

“Mommy, what is a veteran?”
my child asked in an innocent way…
“and could you please explain to me
why we have a Veteran’s Day?”
My mind searched for the adjectives
that might help me clarify
those people, who for their country
have looked death in the eye.

I quickly grabbed the dictionary
to see what Webster may have used
but “one who served in the armed forces”
were not the words that I would choose.

But, how do you describe a veteran;
soldiers you have never met…
those you’ll never know the names of
and yet…never will forget?

How do you describe a veteran?
How do you convey a definition
for those who brought this country’s dreams
to their ultimate fruition?

How do you describe a veteran;
strangers who fought for you…
men and women who risked their lives
for people they never knew?

How do you describe a veteran
and the sacrifices they made
so that you and your children’s children
could live free…and unafraid?

How do you describe a veteran
for a child’s sake?
You say “a veteran is a person to whom we owe
every breath we take.”

poem by Linda Ellis

Veterans, it’s been said, are those who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check made payable to “The United States of America” for an amount up to and including their life.

It’s worth remembering the words of Army Veteran Charles M. Province: “It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.”

What is the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day? Memorial Day, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, while Veterans Day is set aside to honor all those who served honorably in the military, whether in war or peace.

About Kevin

Councilmember - City of Oakley, Manager of Mainframe Operations and Optimization – USS-POSCO INDUSTRIES, Co-Founder and Board Member - Friends of Oakley A Community Foundation, Commissioner - Contra Costa Transportation Authority, Board Member - Tri Delta Transit, Transplan, San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority and RD 2137, Advisory Board – Opportunity Junction
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