November is upon us and with it comes thoughts of upcoming holidays. For us of the baby-boom generation, one of the most special was one called Armistice Day – not a day full of shining ornaments or brightly colored wrapped gifts, but a very special day indeed.
In 1919, following World War I, also called the Great War, or the War to End All Wars, an armistice was signed on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month between the Allied nations and Germany to temporarily cease all fighting. That day was then set aside to honor that treaty and the soldiers who fought in that war.
As time went on and America was involved in more conflicts and battles, it was felt that soldiers who served our country in war or peace time should also be honored in some way. So on June 1, 1954, the name Veterans Day was chosen to replace Armistice Day, and it became a federal holiday. In some countries it is called Remembrance Day or Poppy Day.
In looking through our dictionaries, we came upon the word “veteran” and found that the word comes from the Latin “veteranus” meaning “old” or “experienced”. But the definition most common today is “a person who has served in active military service.”
In order to insure that future generations are aware of the sacrifices made by our military personnel, it is important for us to share the history of Veterans Day in our communities with our families, especially our young people, to have them realize it is not just another day off from school or work. It should be a remembrance of the service and sacrifice so many have made to enable us to enjoy the many freedoms we have in this great country. So on November 11, we should pause before our town’s Veterans Memorial, visit a cemetery and note the names of the veterans, wave a flag, remember those in veterans’ homes and hospitals, visit neighbors or relatives who served, shake their hands and say “thank you,” honor the Gold Star families who gave so much, and make Veterans Day a meaningful holiday to celebrate.