This coming Monday, Nov. 11, is Veterans Day, a day seat aside to honor those who have served in America’s Armed Forces.
It’s only fitting that we should honor them. America’s military forces have done more to secure freedom for more people than any other force on Earth. Consider the forces they’ve fought since the turn of the 20th Century: German imperialists and Nazis, Italian Fascists, Japanese militarists, Communists and Islamofascists. Without the American armed forces and our veterans, the world would be a very different place.
There aren’t many organizations that are more civic-minded that veterans’ organizations. Our veterans, with their service in the military and their continued service when they came home, have made America what it is today.
Veterans Day is celebrated Nov. 11 because that was the day the cease-fire that ended the Great War (now known as World War I) went into effect in 1918. It was first celebrated as Armistice Day in 1919, and Congress declared an annual observance in 1926. It was made an official National Holiday in 1938.
Of course, the Great War wasn’t the last war. World War II followed. There’s some debate about just when it started. Some say it started when German invaded Poland in 1939, while others say it started when Japan invaded China in 1937 or Manchuria in 1931. We know the war ended with the total defeat of Germany and Japan in 1945.
In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially changed the name of Armistice Day to Veterans Day to honor all the veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.
The History Channel has some fascinating facts about veterans and Veterans Day on their website, www.history.com. Here are a few of them:
More than 16 million Americans served in World War II, or more than 10 percent of the U.S. population at the time. Of these, just under 500,000 were still alive as of 2018.
In 1968, under the Uniform Holiday Act, Veterans Day was moved to the fourth Monday in October. The change went into effect in 1971. However, in 1975, President Gerald R. Ford moved Veterans Day back to Nov. 11 because of the historical significance of the day.
Great Britain, France, Australia and Canada all have celebrations honoring veterans on or about Nov. 11.
There are 21 million living veterans in the United States. Of these 18.2 million served in some sort of conflict.
About 9 percent of U.S. veterans are women.
A total of 26 U.S. Presidents were veterans. There are 97 veterans serving in the U.S. Congress, including 16 in the Senate and 81 in the House of Representatives.
Seven million veterans served in the Persian Gulf War, seven million served in Vietnam, and two million served in Korea.
Our veterans represent the best of what American is all about. We should honor them not just on this one day, but every day.