Thursday, November 10, 2011

Veteran's Day: 11.11.2011

A US Marine holding a folded memorial or interment flag.

From President Obama's proclamation recognizing November 11, Veteran's Day, as an annual federal holiday...
On Veterans Day, we come together to pay tribute to the men and women who have worn the uniform of the United States Armed Forces. Americans across this land commemorate the patriots who have risked their lives to preserve the liberty of our Nation, the families who support them, and the heroes no longer with us. It is not our weapons or our technology that make us the most advanced military in the world; it is the unparalleled spirit, skill, and devotion of our troops. As we honor our veterans with ceremonies on this day, let our actions strengthen the bond between a Nation and her warriors.
America’s sons and daughters have not watched over her shores or her citizens for public recogni­tion, fanfare, or parades. They have preserved our way of life with unwavering patriotism and quiet courage, and ours is a debt of honor to care for them and their families. These obligations do not end after their time of service, and we must fulfill our sacred trust to care for our veterans after they retire their uniforms.
As a grateful Nation, we are humbled by the sacrifices rendered by our service members and their families out of the deepest sense of service and love of country. On Veterans Day, let us remember our solemn obligations to our veterans, and recommit to upholding the enduring principles that our country lives for, and that our fellow citizens have fought and died for.

From Armistice Day to Veterans Day...
At 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918 a cease fire is declared. This is the first step to end World War I, the Great War, the war everyone thought was so awful that surely it would be the last war. 

Every year after that first Armistice Day in 1918, the holiday was celebrated all over the world with parades to honor the war dead as well as to celebrate a world at peace. 

It is from that first celebration that the current Veteran's Day has its roots, a holiday that has come to honor all veterans, both survivors as well as the war dead, from the Great War and beyond. This and Memorial Day our two holidays when it is customary for families to place stick flags on their veterans' graves.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with Honor Guard
On November 11, 1921, Congress passes new legislation to create the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a memorial to stand in Arlington National Cemetery in honor of our soldiers who died unknown in combat. 

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is presided over by a special honor guard 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. While customs vary from country to country, most nations do have their own memorial to the Unknown Soldier. To read about the history of the guard and their particular customs, visit their link here.

In 1926, the United States government passes legislation making November 11 a federal holiday. Part of the legislation for Armistice Day requires that the president read the proclamation anew each year. This tradition still continues.

In 1954, new legislation is passed giving Armsitice Day a new name and a new emphasis. The legislation, signed by President Eisenhower, turns Armistice Day into Veteran's Day. Still a federal holiday and still requiring the president to declare it anew each year, Veteran's Day is meant to remember all the soldiers from all of the wars, including those who died as well as those who fought most recently in World War II and in the Korean War.

Eisenhower signing Veteran's Day legislation, 1954
From President Eisenhower's Veteran's Day Proclamation...
 In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible.

In 1978, Veteran's Day, which had been celebrated in October in some states and in November in other states (confusion arising from the new Monday holiday law from the 1970's), is formally returned to November 11. 

The Department of Veteran's Affairs has made this video explaining Veteran's Day:

The art of Veteran's Day ....
The 2011 official Veteran's Day poster:

The 2010 poster is a history of the United States as seen through the battlefields, from Lexington to Basra.

The 1995 poster memorialized the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. The hands of an old soldier, once a young hero, are a poignant nod to the history or war and peace:

Let if fly! 
To find find out how to fly the flag and other flag etiquette, see USFlagstore's  Flag Etiquette 101 and USFlagstore's How to Fly the Flag at Half-Staff.

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