Veterans’ Day, AKA Armistice Day


One hundred years ago today, the US celebrated the one year anniversary of the end of World War I, which was known at the time as the Great War. Seven years later Congress passed a resolution calling for an annual celebration. Then, in 1938, Armistice Day became an official national holiday.

Fittingly, after World War II and after the end of the Korean War, in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower changed the name of the holiday to Veterans’ Day.

This particular holiday differs from Memorial Day in one significant way: the commemoration in May honors those who died serving their country, whereas Veterans’ Day honors all military personnel living today, those who are still in the service and those who have matriculated from the service.

Sometimes I think we do some nutty things with our holidays, and this was one. Back in 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill (and apparently President Johnson signed it) which moved Veterans’ Day to the fourth Monday in October! President Gerald Ford returned it to November 11, six years later, largely because of the historical connection to the end of WWI.

I’m glad he did. I had a hard time with changing Abraham Lincoln and George Washington’s birthdays to the nearest Monday, and even more trouble with the combined celebration calling it now Presidents’ Day. It’s kind of like celebrating the 4th of July on the first Monday in July, or something. That would be so wrong because you know, the 4th should be celebrated on the 4th.

So thankfully Veterans’ Day has been returned to its original anniversary. The problem is, a lot of the history of Armistice Day has been lost, I fear. I mean, there’s been so much history that has happened in the last 100 years, it’s easy to crowd out what at the time was a momentous occurrence.

What we here in the US may not realize, the First World War lasted from 1914-1918. Over 9 million people died. The conflict started as “the European War” but soon became a global war. Although President Woodrow Wilson campaigned, and won his second term in office, by running on the slogan “He kept us out of war,” the US joined the war efforts on the side of the Allied Powers in April 1917 by declaring war on Germany.

In many ways, it’s ironic that we celebrate the armistice that was signed to bring an end to the conflict because historians point to the conditions of peace and the punitive terms imposed on Germany as one cause of World War II. But of course, back in 1919, no one knew that a worse war would almost dwarf the mayhem caused by “the war to end all wars.”

But even though the armistice was sketchy, at best, the point and purpose of a day set aside to honor veterans, is not. It is only right that we should acknowledge and thank the many men and women who have and are serving us, which they do by serving our country. And many times their families are required to make sacrifices, too.

So thank you to those who spent time in whichever branch of service they may have been a part of. I mean, the Coast Guard is just as vital as the Air Force. And reservists are just as vital as career military people. All those sacrificial people desire our thanks, and much more. The deserve our support, our help, our willingness to reach out and befriend a veteran, our prayers. They deserve our willingness to listen to their stories, to share their heartache or their triumph.

May God provide and care and watch over those who faithfully put their lives on the line for us.

Published in: on November 11, 2019 at 5:10 pm  Comments (5)  
Tags: , , ,
%d bloggers like this: