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”
One year after the end of World War I, 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 World War II, 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. At 11:00 in the morning, Americans are encouraged to observe a moment of silence to remember those who fought for freedom.
I’ll be honest with you – it is quite uncomfortable for me to take a closer look at Veterans Day. You see, there are too many times that I take the freedoms that I enjoy for granted. But more than that, there are too many times that I forget the costs of the freedoms I enjoy.
But here I sit, in the wealthiest nation in the world, free to attend the church of my choice, free to vote for the leaders I want and free to speak out against the government without fear of repercussions. And the only reason I can enjoy these and other freedoms is because brave men and women stepped forward, willing to lay down their lives to protect and preserve our freedoms.
So to those men, women and their families I want to say “thank you,” not only on this Veterans’ Day but every day!