It’s time to Break It Down!
Eleven years ago, I wrote a post in recognition of Veteran’s Day, and the service personnel we as a nation honor on that day. In 2009, and again in 2015 when I reprised this post, Veterans Day fell on Wednesday. In 2018, the day fell on Sunday. In 2019, Monday. This year, the day again falls on Wednesday. Today is Veterans Day. I’ve decided once more, to edit/re-post the Veteran’s Day Edition of “Break It Down!”
That call, in and of itself flies in the face of the current news cycle. We’ve just gone through a consequential quadrennial (Presidential) election that resulted in the two candidates each amassing more votes than any other candidates in U.S. History. For just the 11th time in 58 elections, a challenger defeated an incumbent President. The Democratic challenger won the popular vote by more than 4M votes, and, though it took four days, independent news outlets, including Fox News and the Associated Press called the race Saturday afternoon. The margin is the largest since Roosevelt defeated Hoover by 7M votes in 1932. Nevertheless, the incumbent refused to concede, and on a number of occasions, expressed certainty that he will still win.
He has also declined to permit members of his administration to assist in any way with the transition. Moreover, he threatened to fire anyone known to be seeking other employment. Given those dynamics, while the election and the incumbent’s legal gymnastics may be the current pre-eminent story, followed closely by a still surging coronavirus (100,000 cases per day in the U.S. for the past week, over 60K hospitalizations yesterday, and more 239K Americans dead from it); neither will be decided today. Hence, I will take a moment to honor Veterans Day and the men and women whose dedication, valor and personal treasure make the day one of merit for distinction.
I hope you enjoy your day, and that you take an opportunity to reach out and thank a Veteran. Moreover, for my part, to all of you who are Veterans, “Thank you for your service.”
Many of you may know, or at least faintly recall that I frequently alter the blog format to integrate holiday traditions into the discussion. Often holidays are expanded by days away from work, long weekends, travel, and a host of leisure activities. In those cases, I prefer to scale back in recognition that aside from road map directions, GPS instructions, and the like, very little reading will be taking place.
As most Americans know, last year marked the 102-year Anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I, AKA “The Great War,” and/or, “The War That Ended All Wars.” At first, it was known as Armistice Day. It later became known as Veterans Day. But what do we really know about this day that has been set aside to honor real American heroes and sheroes?
Well, first, Veterans Day is not Memorial Day, and vice-versa. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Day is intended largely to honor Living veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served – not only those who died – have sacrificed and done their duty. Memorial Day honors those veterans who died in the service of their country, particularly those killed in combat, or as a result of wounds sustained in battle.
We also know that Veterans Day is a different kind of federal holiday. With the exception of Sundays, it falls on its actual date. In 1968, Congress approved the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. This law, which took effect in 1971, amended the observance of certain federal holidays so that Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Columbus Day, and Veterans Day would be observed on Mondays instead of fixed dates.
Congress passed the Act to increase the number of three-day holiday weekend for federal employees. After a loud and persistent outcry from Veterans and Veterans’ groups, who argued the historical significance of November 11th was compromised by the change, Veterans Day observance was returned to November 11th in 1978.
So how did this affinity for November 11th come about? As with many historical facts, it evolved. Veterans Day began as Armistice Day. The significance of Armistice Day is that it was the day of the signing of the Armistice that terminated World War I (WW I). In effect, WW I ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. That was when the Germans signed the document, ending hostilities that had begun in 1914. President Woodrow Wilson subsequently proclaimed the first Armistice Day, November 11, 1919.
WW I was deemed The Great War, and was thought by many, at the time, to be “The War That Ended All Wars.” It was, as the numeric designation suggests, the First World War. Of course, more wars would ensue. There was World War II (WW II), later the Korean Conflict, and then Vietnam.
In 1953, a storeowner in Emporia, Kansas, Al King, launched an idea to honor all Veterans, not just those who served in WW I. The idea took root, sailed through Congress, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed it into law May 26, 1954. Congress amended the Act November 8, 1954, changing Armistice to Veterans, and thus it has been ever since.
So now, especially remember…”The Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month!” To augment a popular bumper sticker, “If you can read this, thank a teacher”…and a veteran.
I’m done; holla back!
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