Celebrating Veterans Day

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Legislative Column for the Week of Nov. 2, 2015
Celebrating Veterans Day

JEFFERSON CITY — This Veterans Day (Nov. 11), many of you will attend special events and watch colorful parades that honor our country’s heroes.  While we participate in these festivities, I’d like to share with you how this celebration first came about, designed to support those who serve both at home and abroad.

More than 65 years ago, the first Veterans Day parade was organized in Birmingham, Ala., to honor all of America’s veterans for their loyal service to our country.  A short time later, federal legislation was proposed changing Armistice Day — commemorating the armistice signed between the Allies of WWI and Germany, which took place on the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918 — to Veterans Day to celebrate all who have served in our nation’s Armed Forces.  In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill proclaiming Nov. 11 as Veterans Day and called upon all U.S. citizens to re-dedicate themselves to the cause of peace.

The Veterans Day National Ceremony is held each year on Nov. 11 at Arlington National Cemetery.  At precisely 11 a.m., color guard — made up of members from each of the military services — renders honors to America’s war dead during a tradition-rich ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns.  Typically, the president then places a wreath at the Tomb and then “Taps” is played.  A parade of flags displayed by numerous veterans’ service organizations also takes place adjacent to the Tomb.

Words cannot express or describe the debt and gratitude we owe to our men and women veterans and to their families for keeping our country free. Their sacrifices are immeasurable. Millions lost their lives. Many were severely injured. All gave 100 percent to defend our great country. So on Veterans Day, let’s celebrate our veterans and pay our respects humbly.