Today we honor those who have served (and are serving) in our armed forces. Veteran’s Day was first called Armistice Day both in the US and Britain, as it commemorated the signing of the Armistice that brought World War I to an end (on the 11th hour of November 11, 1918). In declaring the day a federal holiday, President Woodrow Wilson said:
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.
At the close of World War II, a veteran from Alabama named Raymond Weeks wanted to expand Armistice Day to include everyone who had served their country, not just World War I veterans. He took his proposal to Washington, receiving full support from President Dwight Eisenhower. The bill was presented to Congress by US Representative Ed Rees, and signed by President Eisenhower in 1954. An amendment was soon added to rename the holiday, from “Armistice Day” to “Veteran’s Day,” as it’s been known ever since.
Thank you to all of the veterans who have served our country and dedicated their lives to keeping us safe. On this day (and on many other days), I think about my father, who served in our Air Force, and my two grandfathers, both gone now, who fought in World War II. I think about the courage they showed in their willingness to sacrifice everything for the love of our country. And I admire them greatly for it.