My earliest Veterans Day remembrances are of a day off from school, which is a special treat to almost every child I know. That was long before I realized just what a Veteran was. As I progressed through my American History courses, I slowly began to realize that everyday men and women had answered the call through many wars to serve their country. Today, we honor those men and women for their sacrifices to ensure our freedom.
Throughout my life, I’ve been privileged to know veterans of all wars since WWII. Many served their time, came home, and for years didn’t speak about their experiences. My dad’s cousin served in WWII in Europe and only began to speak about the war in the past 10 years. My aunts and uncles served in WWII and the Korean War but I mainly only know their branches of the service and maybe where they were stationed. I didn’t know until fairly recently, that my mom was an airplane spotter during WWII. Do you know your family Veterans’ History?
The Library of Congress American Folk Life Center has an exciting project to “collect, preserve, and make accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war.” If you have a veteran in your family, consider checking out this project and encouraging your family member to add their memories to the project. More information can be found at www.loc.gov/vets/about.html
One of the hidden treasures of Roswell is the “Faces of War Memorial” on the grounds of City Hall. This fourteen by twenty feet bronze monument captures 50 faces showing the fear, grief, and courage of people in war. One figure in the sculpture is a soldier who reaches out of the memorial to clasp the hand of a little girl who is in front of the sculpture. It’s a great place to remember and be thankful for our veterans as we honor them, this Friday, November 11.
Take a moment today to thank a veteran. The best things we can do for them are very easy:
1. Acknowledge their sacrifices. Even if they didn’t see a single minute of battle, they spent time in a strange place far away from family and friends.
2. Listen to their story. Many of our older veterans, especially, hunger for someone to hear about their experiences.
3. Let them know that you appreciate all they’ve done for you.
4. Check with your closest Veterans Affairs hospital to determine the needs of the veterans they serve. Items like gently used magazines and books, for example, can serve a new purpose helping a Veteran pass the time, waiting to see a doctor.
And now for my fellow history buffs, here’s some information from the Veterans Affairs website about the history of Veterans Day.
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 the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, 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 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. The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926. In 1954, the holiday was officially renamed Veterans Day by Congress.