There was a day and a time when November 11th was just be another day closer to Thanksgiving. I really had no idea what it was, why the banks were closed or the mail was not being delivered. I was not so different from most Americans, it was just another governmental holiday, no special celebrations and no real reminders about what the day truly stood for.
Then one day, not so long ago my daughter was asked to give a Veteran’s Day speech at a local retirement home. At 15, she was delving into the history of Veteran’s Day and why we celebrated it as a nation. Here are a few facts we discovered.
This holiday (originally known as Armistice Day) was established to remember the 1918 signing of the Armistice Treaty and to honor the heroes of World War I. The Armistice began on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour.
In 1921, Congress resolved to build a tomb to honor the men who died overseas.
On the morning of November 11th, an unknown soldier was given a military procession to Arlington National Cemetery and buried at what is known today as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
This tomb has been guarded around the clock by dedicated servicemen and women since 1948.
The tomb now holds and unknown soldier from World Wars I & II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
The honor paid to this soldier is the same respect that all of our veterans deserve. It was in 1954 that Veterans Day was officially renamed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to honor American veterans of all wars.
The first time Bethany stood up to speak to the Veterans and their families, my eyes filled with tears as I began to see their great sacrifice: the years lost, the bodies broken, the hearts branded and the eyes that had seen more horrors and death than any person should see. For the first time I saw the cost and I knew these men and women who had so willingly laid down their lives for others, deserved more than we could give and Veteran’s Day should only be the starting point for a lifetime of respect, honor and gratitude for their sacrifices so we could live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.