“I thank my God every time I remember you.” – Philippians 1:3
It was the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month in 1918 when the world celebrated as a treaty was signed ending what was to be “the war to end all wars” – World War I. One year later, on what came to be known as Armistice Day, Americans came together to remember and honor the sacrifices of the men and women who served during the war. Soldiers who survived the war marched in parades and were honored by speeches and ceremonies recognizing their contribution to peace throughout the world.
Congress declared Armistice Day a national holiday in 1938. By this time, with unrest in much of the world, Americans realized World War I would not be the last war. After the Second World War, which was even bloodier than the first, Armistice Day continued to be observed. In 1954, Congress changed the name of the holiday to Veterans Day to include veterans of all United States wars.
Today, Americans honor the service and sacrifice of our armed forces in the past as well as the present on Veterans Day. The official, national ceremony takes place at Arlington National Cemetery at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. A color guard representing all the branches of the military executes “Present Arms” at the tomb, a Presidential wreath is placed on the graves, and a bugler plays “taps.”
In communities across the county, there are parades, ceremonies and speeches. At 11:00 in the morning, Americans are encouraged to observe a moment of silence to remember those who fought for freedom.
Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take;
but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
Patrick Henry March 23, 1775
Here we sit – in the wealthiest nation on the earth – free to attend the church of our choice, to own as many Bibles as we can afford, to vote for the leaders of our government and even write a letter to the editor of the newspaper when we disagree with the decisions they make. And why can I enjoy these freedoms? Because the men and women in our armed forces understand that freedom has a cost. And since the birth of our nation, brave men and women have stepped forward, weighed the cost and chosen to lay down their lives in service to their fellow countrymen. Let’s not forget our Veterans this Veterans Day.
A simple “thanks for serving” would most like suffice.