American Legion, VFW stress importance of remembering those who served in Armed Forces
Veterans Day, the annual time for remembering the end of World War I and the brave Americans who served in the “war to end all wars,” also draws from the news headlines of the day.
“What we now call ‘Veterans Day’ began as ‘Armistice Day.’ It is historically significant that this day continue to be observed on the month, day and hour that the guns fell silent in World War I at 11 a.m., Nov. 11, 1918.”
While the day has strong historical roots, current events continue to add meaning to the day.
Today, thousands of Americans are serving in uniform. They sacrifice in the war on terror and in hundreds of locations around the globe so we may remain free. They, too, are veterans.
The American Legion is the nation’s largest wartime veterans organization. Founded early in 1919, the delegates to the first National Convention in Minneapolis broke from business sessions to parade down a main street in a heavy snowstorm at 11 a.m. Nov. 11 to mark the anniversary of the armistice.
Remembering America’s warriors is often an afterthought for many Americans. It’s about time Nov. 11 is paid its proper respect.
Veterans Day, once a widely celebrated holiday, is increasingly forgotten by many Americans. With the percentage of citizens who have worn a uniform rapidly declining, appreciation for the sacrifices made by veterans is correspondingly diminishing.
To help counter this trend, VFW has long promoted Veterans Day as an opportunity to educate the public as to the meaning of this significant time each November. This task can best be accomplished by explaining the five “Ws.”
Who. As a nation, we remember all Americans who served on active duty in the armed forces. While those who died always remain prominent in our memories, they have a special time of mourning reserved for Memorial Day. Veterans Day is an opportunity to publicly commemorate the contributions of living veterans.
What. Collective as well as individual contributions to the nation’s defense are what we are remembering. The outcome of any given military campaign is irrelevant here—it’s the sacrifices made at the behest of the country that are important.
Where. Across the land, the grounds of virtually every state capitol and county courthouse host monuments, memorials and plaques honoring those who served. They date back as far as the American Revolution and are as recent as the Iraq War. But paying homage to veterans need not necessarily be in a public place. Every private home also should serve this purpose when appropriate.
When. For some Americans, remembering veterans is a daily act. But as a nation, it is essential that we preserve the integrity of Nov. 11 as that one extra-special day for the American people as a whole to pause in silence or demonstrate public recognition.
Why. Remembering gives true meaning to sacrifice and service. Millions of Americans’ lives were forever altered because they donned a uniform to protect the freedoms and rights we take for granted. We owe an eternal debt of gratitude to them. And acknowledging Veterans Day is the time that debt comes due. It’s our way of keeping faith.