On Nov. 11, 1918, an armistice was reached to cease hostilities until a final peace treaty could be reached, basically bringing a conclusion to the fighting in World War I.
The following year, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Armistice Day would be recognized every year in this nation on Nov. 11. The original thought was to celebrate the armistice with a two-minute suspension of business at 11 a.m. to recognize those who fell in combat during “The Great War.”
The recognition of Armistice Day evolved into a legal holiday in most states in the 1920s and 1930s, and was officially made a federal holiday in 1938. Following World War II from 1941-1945 and the Korean War from 1950-1953, millions more veterans were added to the rolls in the nation and, with that in mind, President Dwight Eisenhower signed legislation in 1954 to change the name of the holiday to Veterans Day.
Congress passed the Monday Holiday Law in 1968, which established that the fourth Monday in October would be the new date for observing Veterans Day, starting in 1971. That was so wildly unpopular across the nation that the holiday was moved back to Nov. 11 in 1975 legislation, permanently making Nov. 11 Veterans Day when that took effect in 1978.
Got all that?
We’ve been historically wild in celebrating the achievements and sacrifices of our veterans. We’ve changed days, duration of observance and who is included.
But, at the basic core of it all, we have consistently chosen to honor them. We see them as our protectors. We understand that they have done things so the rest of us have been able to live our day-to-day lives without fear. And we thank them for their sacrifices.
Often lost in the high-powered rhetoric and political gamesmanship we see from our political divide in this nation today is that there are more and more veterans returning home every day. They carry the scars — both emotional and physical — of their own experiences in war, and often come home to find that people are far more concerned about the economy than what they have done.
That’s not to say the economy shouldn’t be a major concern for most of us in this nation. People are out of work. They’re losing their homes. It’s hard out there.
But the wars overseas, and the men and women returning home, are often getting brushed aside.
Take a moment this Veterans Day to thank a veteran for his or her efforts. If you pray, take a minute and say a prayer for those overseas right now.
We all have busy lives, and we all have our concerns. But let’s remember those who give of themselves for the rest of us.