The holiday season is quickly approaching, but before we can even think about putting up our Christmas trees or planning the family Thanksgiving dinner, another day of remembrance falls on our calendar — one that commemorates brave citizens who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
For 98 years now, Nov. 11 has been set aside as a federal holiday dedicated to the cause of world peace. President Woodrow Wilson declared the first “Armistice Day” to recognize the service of American soldiers and our allies in defeating Germany and its allies in “the war to end all wars,” World War I.
For many years, we have marked Veterans Day with parades, solemn ceremonies at military cemeteries and other gatherings to commemorate the sacrifices made by the men and women who have served out country.
Nearly 70 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., the color guard — made up of members from each of the branch of the military —honors America’s fallen soldiers during a ceremony steeped in tradition at the Tomb of the Unknown. 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.
There are more than 25 million living Americans who we recognize as veterans. These veterans served our country during world War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and other conflicts. Here in Missouri, there are more than 480,000 veterans who call Missouri home. Our state is also home to more than 34,000 active duty and reserve guard members.
Words cannot describe the debt of gratitude we owe our veterans and their families for keeping our country free. Their sacrifices are immeasurable. Millions have lost their lives. Many were severely injured. All gave everything to defend our great country. As Veterans Day approaches, let’s remember the sacrifices made by all of our veterans and those currently serving our country. Let’s honor their service and celebrate the commitments each of them made our great country.
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