Today marks the 102st Veterans Day, when we pause at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in honor of all American veterans.
Our national Veterans Day observance originated as Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. The Armistice commemoration was to honor Veterans of World War 1.
On 11 November 1921, an unknown American soldier from World War I was buried in Arlington National Cemetery in the Tomb of the Unknown, in recognition of WWI veterans and in conjunction with the cessation of hostilities at 11 a.m. on 11 November 1918 – the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. This was President Warren Harding’s request: “All … citizens … indulge in a period of silent thanks to God for these … valorous lives and of supplication for His Divine mercy … on our beloved country.”
Inscribed on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier are the words, “Here lies in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.”
In 1954 President Dwight D. Eisenhower, former Supreme Allied Commander of World War II, signed legislation formally changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day. Eisenhower wrote, “[L]et us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us re-consecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.”
Veterans Day is a tribute to military veterans who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. Not to be confused with Memorial Day, which honors those who died while in service, Veterans Day honors all military veterans.
We should remind ourselves today of the following observation from Army veteran Charles M. Province:
It is the Soldier, not the minister, who has given us freedom of religion.
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 freedom to protest.
It is the Soldier, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the Soldier, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote.
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.
FAQ about Veterans Day – LINK
Free “Thank You” cards to send to a Veteran – LINK
Organizations that send cards to Veterans – LINK
Military veteran story projects – LINK