Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Veterans Day!


By Sharon R. Miles

Today, November 11, 2009, commemorates the celebration of Veterans Day, the annual, federal holiday honoring all veterans who have served in the U.S. armed forces… and currently a trending topic on Twitter! Veterans Day is typically observed on November 11. However, if November 11 falls on a Sunday, the federal government designates the following Monday for holiday leave. If November 11 falls on a Saturday, then either Saturday or Friday may be designated for employee leave.

Veterans Day takes its roots in the signing of the armistice treaty, signifying the end of World War I. The armistice treaty was signed between the Allies and Germany in 1918, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. President Woodrow Wilson declared an Armistice Day for the following year, November 11, 1919 and in 1938, Congress passed an Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U.S. Code, Sec. 87a), proclaiming November 11 of each year a federal holiday, "a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as 'Armistice Day'."

Fifteen years later, inspired by his work with American War Dads during WWII, Al King, a shoe store owner from Emporia, Kansas, actively started a campaign to evolve the holiday into a day commemorating all veterans, not only those who served in WWI. As a result, a bill was pushed through Congress and signed into law by President Dwight Eisenhower in May of 1954, and in November of that same year, Congress amended the act to replace “Armistice” with "Veterans." Since then, the day has been known as Veterans Day in the United States.

Where and how we decide to celebrate Veterans Day is a personal choice. I hope each and every American takes a moment to remember those men and women who have fought and continue the fight to defend our country, here and abroad. I want to take this moment to extend my gratitude to all veterans. I also want to give special thanks to my dad, a former naval officer who served two tours in Vietnam. THANK YOU.

Sidenote: An explanation for why there is no apostrophe in Veterans Day.

Image: Library of Congress Public Domain: Crowd at burial ceremony of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery, 1921 or 1922.