Today is Veterans Day, a day to reflect and honor all those who have fought for our freedom. I don't know about you but it seems the older we get, everyone knows someone who was in the war. Whether it is the earlier wars (WWI, WWII, Korean War, etc.) or the more recent wars (Gulf War, War in Afghanistan, etc.) we all know someone.
My father was drafted during the Korean War. While he was sailing across the ocean on his way to fight they received word the war had ended. Lucky for him and lucky for me; if something happened to him, I may not be here.
My father-in-law passed away in 2006 at the funeral, my mother-in-law was given a flag which is folded and in a display case in her living room. I am not certain which war he served but that doesn’t make it any less important.
So, in honor of this legal holiday, I decided to do a little research to find out when Veterans Day began. When I take on a task such as this, I am reminded how horrible my memory is and I wonder if I slept through history class because some of this stuff sounds completely foreign to me.
Anyway, here is what I found out; World War I ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919 but the war actually ended, and fighting stopped, seven months earlier when an armistice (a cease fire, a truce) went into effect on November 11, 1918. For that reason, November 11, 1918 is known as the end of the war to end all wars.
This picture was actually taken in France at 10:58 am on November 11, 1918,
two minutes before the cease fire went into effect.
A year later, in November, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11th as the first anniversary of armistice day, the war to end all wars, with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America…”
It was a long time after that (May 13, 1938) that an act was approved to make November 11th in each year a legal holiday – a day dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.” It was originally intended to honor the veterans of WWI but when WWII came along, the word Armistice was removed and replaced with the word Veterans so on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American Veterans of all wars.
So thank you for serving and protecting us which allows us the ability to live in the greatest nation in the world.
R. K. Avery