In 1918, on the eleventh hour of the
eleventh day in the eleventh month, after four years of bitter
war, a cease-fire agreement known as 'Armistice' was signed
at Rethondes, France bringing World War I to a close. The
"war to end all wars" was over. More than 10 million
lives had been lost forever.
In hailing the end of war, President Woodrow
"To us in America, the reflections
of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the
heroism of those who died in the country's service, and
with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing
from which it has freed us, and because of the opportunity
it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and
justice in the councils of the nations."
In 1938, a United States Congressional
Act made November 11th a federal holiday. The Act declared
it "a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace".
The Act was amended in 1954 to rename the holiday to 'Veterans
Day', so that all veterans could be honored.
Veterans Day honors men and women who have
served in the armed services. The day has different names
in different countries, but its purpose is the same everywhere
it is observed. Great Britain celebrates November 11th as
Armistice Day, it is not a national holiday but special
observances celebrate the armistice that ended World War
I. France also calls it Armistice Day. In Canada it is a
national holiday called Remembrance Day. Whether called
Armistice Day, Remembrance Day or Veterans Day, it remains
a time to recognize those who fought and to renew our commitment
Veterans Day celebrations in the United
States include parades and speeches. Special services are
held at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National
Cemetery in Virginia, they begin with 2 minutes of silence,
then after the playing of taps, a wreath is placed at the
tomb which houses the graves of 3 unknown Americans who
fought in World War I, World War II, and the Korean War.
In a ceremony in Washington, D.C., a wreath is placed at
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to honor those who died in
the Vietnam War.
Flags today in tribute wave|
For those loyal ones who gave
Of their youth, their hopes, their might
For a cause they knew was right.
Morning bells sound their call,
Pause and say a prayer for all--
All who served valiantly
That men might be ever free.
Toll of bells, drums' slow beat--
Silence falls in every street.
In each heart swells the plea:
Keep us safe, but keep us free!
Kate Englehardt Clark
Do not stand at my grave and weep.|
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the Gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the mornings hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight,
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die.
On Veterans Day and Memorial Day, support groups such as
the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars raise funds
for their charitable activities by selling paper poppies
made by disabled veterans. This bright red wildflower became
a symbol of World War I after a bloody battle in a field
of poppies called Flanders Field in Belgium.
often take for granted our current way of life, our freedom
to participate in cultural and political events, and our
right to live under a government of our choice.
In Flanders fields the poppies
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.
Lt. Col. John McCrae, MD
Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps
In remembering those who went off to war
in distant lands when such rights and freedoms were being
threatened, in honoring their service and their sacrifice,
we recognize the tradition of freedom they fought to preserve.
These men and women had faith in the future and by their
acts gave us the will to preserve peace for all time. On
Veterans Day, we acknowledge the courage and gallantry of
those who served the cause of freedom.
information about Veterans Day, please visit the Department
of Veterans Affairs website.