Veterans Day. I Googled “history of Veterans Day” and came up with 16,400,000 results in 0.66 seconds. Anyone can look at the top few search results and in five minutes give you a few quick and easy facts about its origin. For those who don’t know, let me recap those facts as detailed on Military.com.
Originally called Armistice Day, November 11th became a national holiday in 1938 and was set aside as a day to celebrate the official end of World War 1 in 1918. In 1954, nine years after the official end of World War 2, November 11th was reclassified by the 83rd Congress as Veterans Day, to honor not just World War 1 Veterans but all those who have donned the uniforms of the US military and served their country honorably. While honoring all Veterans, past and present, Veterans Day is specifically meant for those Veterans who are still with us. Memorial Day in May is set aside to remember those servicemen and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
But Veterans Day is more than just a national holiday on which banks close and federal employees get an extra day off. It’s a day for all of us. I don’t claim to speak for all Veterans but I wouldn’t be surprised if many of my fellows echo my sentiments. Veterans Day is a day of celebration, tempered by humility and gratitude. It’s a day when we survey the landscape of our country, find the many things for which we can be grateful, and then look to those who helped make these liberties and freedoms we enjoy possible, and offer a hearty “Thank you.” It’s a day when we hear stories of those brave men who crawled through trenches in Europe to defeat the Nazis. It’s a day when Vietnam Veterans remember with a renewed sense of pride how they stood shoulder to shoulder with their brothers in the jungles of Southeast Asia. The young sergeant who did two tours under a relentless Iraqi sun can be proud that she served honorably and made it home to rejoin her loved ones. Children hug their parents a little tighter. And it’s a day when dual military spouses separated by time and oceans miss each other just a little bit more. These are those things for which we can all be grateful. These connections, in VA hospitals, VFW halls, in an Uber, at the gym, the office, the nursing home or any of a thousand other places you find our nation’s 22 million Veterans are places for celebration, tempered with humility and gratitude. So on November 11th, take a moment to reach out to the Veterans in your circles and say thank you. Offer a helping hand. Show you care. Take a moment to listen to their stories. Veterans Day – it’s a day for all of us.