Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Tribute to Veterans

Veterans Day is an annual American holiday honoring military veterans. Both a federal holiday and a state holiday in all states, it is usually observed on November 11. It is also celebrated as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in other parts of the world, falling on November 11, the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. (Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice.)
The holiday is commonly printed as Veteran's Day or Veterans' Day in calendars and advertisements. While these spellings are grammatically acceptable, the United States government has declared that the attributive (no apostrophe) rather than the possessive case is the official spelling.

U.S. President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed an Armistice Day for November 12, 1919. The United States Congress passed a concurrent resolution seven years later on June 4, 1926, requesting the President issue another proclamation to observe November 11 with appropriate ceremonies.

In 1953, an Emporia, Kansas, shoe store owner named Al King had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans, not just those who served in World War I. King had been actively involved with the American War Dads during World War II. He began a campaign to turn Armistice Day into "All" Veterans Day. The Emporia Chamber of Commerce took up the cause after determining that 90% of Emporia merchants as well as the Board of Education supported closing their doors on November 11, 1953, to honor veterans. With the help of then-U.S. Rep. Ed Rees, also from Emporia, a bill for the holiday was pushed through Congress. President Dwight Eisenhower signed it into law on May 26, 1954. Congress amended this act on November 8, 1954, replacing "Armistice" with Veterans, and it has been known as Veterans Day since.

The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11 a.m.

Today in America the citizens of this great nation choose to set aside our differing opinions of war and instead focus upon the valor of those who have served this nation in the military. Nearly every American family has its own military history. This history needs to be passed on to our children so future generations understand that freedom is not an entitlement, but it is bought with great price. I remember the stories my grandmother shared with me of her brothers and a sister enlisting and serving during World War II. My one great uncle served in the Pacific as an aviation navigator and returned home to his family. My great aunt was a Navy nurse caring for the wounded. My other great uncle served in the Army in Europe and gave his life in the Battle of the Bulge. I have other uncles who served in the Korean conflict, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and the current war in Iraq.

As Americans we can never forget the sacrifice of those who serve. The family members of our military pay a great price. We have a responsibility to pray for our troops and their families each day. Please join me in praying that their mission is accomplished with excellence and honor and they return home safely. Pray for the cause of freedom to be expanded around the globe.

Thank a veteran today. Make an effort to let our military personnel know how much we value what they are doing. You can go to this website, http://reconnectamerica.com/giveback/, and connect with the different organizations that are committed to serving those who serve us. May God richly bless you as you reach out to our military personnel and their families.

As Americans, we must not be silent on issues concerning our national defense or the funding of our troops. We must let our newly elected President and the Congress know that we will not support any legislation that will adversely affect our military or infringe upon the freedoms that so many have given their lives to protect.

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