To my father and to both my grandfathers, thank you. To my uncle whose name I now call my own, thank you. To my cousin, thank you. To my two great friends from college, thank you. To my high school buddies and my buddy’s newly wed wife, thank you. To all those that served, thank you.
For most, Veteran’s Day is just another holiday, just another day off from work. For some, and I hope more than just some, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor veterans who served honorably in the military. Veterans Day initially marked the day in 1918 when the Treaty of Versailles was signed, signaling the end of the Great War. President Woodrow Wilson saluted the first Armistice Day by saying, “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”
Armistice Day was declared a national holiday in 1921. After World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day in 1954, honoring all American veterans of all wars.
There is a difference, however, between Veterans Day and Memorial Day. Memorial Day honors service members who died in service to their country or as a result of injuries incurred during battle. Deceased veterans are also remembered on Veterans Day but the day is set aside to thank and honor living veterans who served honorably in the military – in wartime or peacetime.
Whether he’s your relative or your neighbor, thank a veteran. If he’s your postman, your school teacher, or even the man standing in the coffee line, thank a veteran. Take the time and say thank you, because it might mean, to use the words of Terri Winder, proud mother of Sgt. Nathan Winder, “more than you know.” We are proud of our men and women. We are proud of our veterans.
If there ever is a day, today is that day to openly honor and remember all our veterans.