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Veterans Day is observed on November 11, regardless of the day of the week on which it falls. (However, if November 11 falls on a Sunday, Veteran’s Day is observed on the following Monday.) The purpose of Veterans Day is to to honor America’s veterans for their service and sacrifice.
In his 2010 Veterans Day speech, Marine Lieutenant General John F. Kelly said:
Those with less of a sense of service to the nation never understand it when men and women of character step forward to look danger and adversity straight in the eye, refusing to blink, or give ground, even to their own deaths. The protected can’t begin to understand the price paid so they and their families can sleep safe and free at night. No, they are not victims, but are warriors, your warriors, and warriors are never victims, regardless of how and where they fall. Death, or fear of death, has no power over them. Their paths are paved by sacrifice, sacrifices they gladly make for you.
Like those who went before them in uniform, we owe them everything. We owe them our safety. We owe them our prosperity. We owe them our freedom. We owe them our lives. Any one of them could have done something more self-serving with their lives as the vast majority of their age group elected to do after high school and college, but no, they chose to serve knowing full well a brutal war was in their future. They did not avoid the basic and cherished responsibility of a citizen—the defense of country—they welcomed it. They are the very best this country produces, and have put every one of us ahead of themselves. All are heroes for simply stepping forward, and we as a people owe a debt we can never fully pay.
In his speech, Lt. Gen. Kelly tells the story of the bravery of two Marines, Corporal Jonathan Yale and Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter in Ramadi, Iraq. Read the speech at: whatsoproudlywehail.org
NOTE: An armistice is a formal agreement of warring parties to stop fighting. It is not necessarily the end of a war, since it might be just a cessation (a pause or stopping) of hostilities while an attempt is made to negotiate a lasting peace. The treaty between the Allies and Germany to end World War I is an example of a famous armistice.
For help answering the questions below, go to va.gov’s History of Veterans Day and FAQs.
1. On what day is Veterans Day officially observed every year?
2. What is the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day?
3. When was Veterans Day made a national legal holiday (by an act of Congress)?
4. a) Why was Veterans Day called Armistice Day until 1954? Be specific.
b) Why was it changed?
5. Who was the first president to issue a Veterans Day Proclamation? In what year did he do so?
6. Re-read the excerpt from Gen. Kelly’s 2010 Veterans Day speech. What idea from this excerpt most inspires you? Explain your answer.
7. Why do you think it is important for every American to honor our veterans on Veterans Day?
8. a) Ask a grandparent how Veterans Day was commemorated when he/she was a teenager.
b) Ask a parent the same question.
9. Do you have any relatives, friends or neighbors who are veterans? What do you think is the best way to acknowledge their service?
10. Veterans Day isn’t just for military families. It is a day for all Americans to honor and thank our vets. How does your town commemorate Veterans Day?
The purpose of Veterans Day is to to honor America’s veterans for their service and sacrifice.
How will you honor our veterans this Veterans Day? Visit the following websites for some ideas:
- TravisMills.org – Travis is one of only five soldiers from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to survive a quadruple amputation. Find out how he is helping fellow veterans today. Consider supporting this honorable work!
- Operation First Response
- The Fisher House Foundation at fisherhouse.org.
- The PenFed Foundation at pentagonfoundation.org.
- The Honor Flight Network at honorflight.org.
or, volunteer at one of our Veterans organization: DAV, Amvets, VFW…
Encourage the families of those currently serving:
- Visit. This can be a great source of encouragement for the military family. But always ask first before dropping by.
- Communicate. Mark your calendars. Make a weekly reminder note to send a card or make a call to encourage the military family. Send letters of appreciation for the service they are rendering our nation. Also, send a funny card, poem, cartoon, or photo to brighten their day.
- For a great movie about three veterans returning home from WWII, watch The Best Years of Our Lives.
- Seargent York is a movie based on the true story of Sgt. Alvin York in WWI. – also highly recommended.
- Read about a WWI documentary by the Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson (scroll down in the post for video).
- Read the story of one WWI soldier “Finding Private Burke“
- For a book about WWI vets, read: “The Last of the Doughboys“
This Veterans Day, watch:
- National Veterans Day concert televised on PBS
- Veterans Day Wreath-Laying Ceremony — Nov. 11 at 11am Live on C-SPAN.The annual Veterans Day National Ceremony begins with a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns and continues inside the Memorial Amphitheater with a parade of colors by veterans’ organizations and remarks from dignitaries.
- New York City’s Veterans Day parade: 12-3 pm EST at americasparade.org/tv
Video – a medley of the Armed Forces songs, from the National Memorial Day Concert, in Washington D.C. 2010 (with lyrics):
Video – History of Veterans Day (from the History Channel):
NOTE: The wearing of poppies in honor of America’s war dead is traditionally done on Memorial Day, not Veterans Day. The practice of wearing of poppies takes its origin from the poem In Flanders Fields, written in 1915 by John McCrae.
Have you ever read the Flanders Fields poem? Have you ever given money to a veteran offering poppies at supermarkets or church? Do you know how this tradition first began or what is done with the money collected? For history of the Memorial Day poppies go to: www1.va.gov/opa/publications/celebrate/flower.pdf.
IN FLANDERS FIELDS
by John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly.
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
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