Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Veteran's Day is a legal federal holiday in the United States and is a day set apart to honor the men and women who serve in the United States Armed Services. Veteran's Day is always celebrated on November 11 no matter what day of the week that happens to be - a departure from all the holidays moved to Monday to make three-day weekends. November 11 is celebrated by several countries according to Sharron G. Uhler (World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 20, p 368). The United Kingdom celebrates it as Armistice Day, not as a legal holiday but as a day to remember the armistice that ended World War I on November 11, 1918. Canada celebrates November 11 with a legal holiday called Remembrance Day. Parades, speeches, and special services at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery are included in the Veteran's Day celebrations. In 1919 President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as Armistice Day to help Americans remember the horrors of war. A law in 1938 made the day a federal holiday. Congress changed the holiday's name in 1954 to honor all United States veterans. Irving Berlin's popular American patriotic song "God Bless America" was performed for the first time on Armistice Day 1938 according to Katherine K. Preston (World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 8, p 244). It was written in 1918 but remained unknown until singer Kate Smith asked Berlin for a patriotic song to perform on Armistice Day. "God Bless America" became one of the most popular songs of 1938. Berlin donated his earnings from the song to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America. Last summer while traveling home to Alaska, I spent some time in an airport. I am a "people watcher" and love to watch people because I find them so fascinating. I noticed an elderly man sitting near me who was wearing a baseball cap with the words "World War II Vet" on it. When I simply said, "Thank you for your service to our country," he beamed and acted as though being thanked was a rare experience. Be sure to thank our veterans and current service men and women for their service to our nation. I know that it means a lot to all of them to know that we recognize and appreciate their sacrifices. I want to take this opportunity to belt out a huge THANK YOU to all the veterans for your past services and sacrifices and to all the men and women in the Armed Services who are on the front lines to protect our freedoms. I want to thank their families as well for the many sacrifices made to support our protectors. THANK YOU!