A Veterans' Day, i.e. Armistice Day, reminder
By Dian Vujovich
When I was a little girl, November 11th was Armistice Day. A day when it seemed everyone in town hung their flags out and waved those little ones in their hands as they watched the parade on Southview Boulevard. Honoring veterans was an unspoken given back then. It was as if everyone intuitively knew the high cost of war, the incredibly personal price paid for our freedom and respected both.
For those who may have forgotten, an armistice is like a truce. And on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, an Armistice agreement was signed by a number of countries who had lost so many of their own during World War 1. The hope then was that that 5-year war would be the world’s last. Sadly, not so.
For American’s, after WW 1 came World War 11, then the Korean War, the Vietnam War and today we are involved in our longest war of all—the Afghanistan War. It began Oct. 7, 2001.
In the early 1950s, people started referring to November 11th as Veterans’ Day in an effort to honor all those who had served in the military through the wars that followed the signing of hope for no more wars that the Armistice Day agreement intended to accomplish. And it was President Dwight Eisenhower who, in 1954, signed a bill declaring November 11th as Veterans’ Day.
Since nothing surrounding war goes smoothly or as intended, in 1968 Veterans’ Day was moved to the fourth Monday in October. Why? Because giving federal employees 3-day holidays seemed to be more important than honoring our war history.
Yes, it was the Uniforms Holiday Bill signed in 1968 that changed the celebrations of Washington’s, Memorial Day, Veterans’ Day and Columbus Day from their respected dates to 3-day holiday weekend dates.
The Veterans’ Day move, however, didn’t fly. States like Mississippi and South Dakota didn’t go for the change at all. Others challenged it and continued to celebrate November 11th as Veterans’ Day.
It was President Gerald Ford, who in 1975 signed a law that returned the observance of Veterans’ Day to its original date. Of course, like so many other laws, that date change wasn’t to take effect until three years later, 1978.
On this day, which deserves our utmost attention, reverence and respect, I’ll leave you with two quotes.
The first is from Gary Hart: “I think there is one higher office than president and I would call that patriot.”
The other from Eve Merriam: ” I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask ‘Mother, what was war?”
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