At eleven minutes after the eleventh hour on the eleventh month in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and eighteen, the guns went silent ending World War I, “The War to End All Wars”.
One year later, in 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Armistice Day as a holiday, honoring the successful conclusion of that terrible war. He was determined to make the world peaceful and secure from future war.
At that time, Americans didn’t know that only twenty-three years later an even greater war would be waged with even more death and destruction. In the intervening years, Germany, a proud country which had been shamed by the world, quietly rebuilt its national pride and its war machine. Developing supporting relationships with Italy and the Japanese Empire, the Nazi Party led a national movement to rule Europe and, eventually, the world.
After being surprised at Pearl Harbor in December 1941, things looked grim for the next six months. But the American spirit and work ethic quickly went into full gear, resulting in a rapid build-up of men and material never before seen. After four difficult years fighting in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters simultaneously, the United States and her allies succeeding in winning another, even more costly, world war.
In the 1950’s, in recognition of the contributions of American military personnel in both world wars, President Eisenhower signed legislations changing the official name of Armistice Day to Veterans Day. This change would allow for recognition of those serving in uniform in the future as well as the past.
For those who died, we must never forget. For those who were wounded, we are duty bound to help them return their lives to as much normalcy as possible. And for the rest, those who served but were fortunate enough to come home unscathed, we sincerely thank them for their service.
So remember on Veterans Day, November 11, when you see a veteran, to thank him or her for their service. For without them, the freedom which we take for granted would have disappeared under tyranny long ago.