Thursday, November 10, 2011

This Day in History November 11, 1954

Originally, on this day in 1918, Armistice Day occurred which signaled the end of WWI.  In 1938, it became a legal holiday in honor of WWI veterans.  Originally, it was just a minor holiday with minor celebrations.  Very little disruption of services and work occurred.

It was on this day in 1954 that the holiday was changed to Veteran's Day in honor of the other veterans who had served in other wars. President Eisenhower gave the first Veteran's Day Proclamation. I did find it interesting that there was a lot of confusion that led to this holiday being celebrated at unusual times--October and September?  That was before I was born.  Following this confusion, President Ford actually returned the holiday to its original date.

I know that many people get Veteran's Day off.  As a schoolteacher, I never got Veteran's Day off unless it was a weekend.  That was when I taught in Florida and in Texas.  It was celebrated, but it was just a government holiday.  It was strange for me because I had always gotten off in Washington state.  And I get it off again--which is nice.  Always good to get a little break.

But I really did some thinking this year about Veteran's Day.  I got to go to an assembly today, and a Pearl Harbor survivor (89 years old!) spoke to us.  I was quite moved as I listened to his story.  I don't think the students were overly impressed, but I realized that as a result of his service, I enjoy the freedoms I do today. And that is true of veterans in general.

As we celebrate today, I know it is tempting to just look at it as another day.  But let us not forget the sacrifice so many have made for us.  People fought and gave their lives for people they did not know.  People they would never know.  As far as I am concerned, that is the definition of a hero.

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