An American celebration of peace
The countdown to Veterans Day (November 11, 2017) — 3 of 6
Veterans Day, celebrated each year on November 11, is one of those holidays that receives very little preemptive consideration in comparison to other nationally observed holidays. If you missed the previous posts in this series, read
In part three of this endeavor, we remember that Veterans Day honors the efforts of all of our veterans in the pursuit of freedom and peace, and is celebrated on a day when peace was achieved. LIBERTY FLAGS dedicating the time between now and Veterans Day to sharing the history and importance of honoring our veterans.
In the United States, many national holidays are celebrated over extended weekends. Veterans Day is a departure from that trend. With the exception of a seven-year period between 1968 and 1975, when Veterans Day was observed on the fourth Monday in October, the occasion has been observed on November 11 each year, and the traditional date has resulted in some traditional observances. Here are three of the most popular.
1. A poetic pastime
Inspired by the death of a dear friend in World War I, Dr. John McCrae wrote a poem that has since come to be an anthem of sorrow for soldiers whose lives were lost in the Great War, “In Flanders Fields.” The poem inspired many to wear paper poppies to honor veterans. In reading McCrae's poem below, it is easy to discover why. Pictured right is an inscription of the poem at the John McCrae memorial in Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
"In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields."
2. The first unknown soldier
Arlington National Cemetery is the location of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. In 1921, the remains of the first unknown soldier, who died in combat during World War I, were placed in the tomb. Since then, each Veterans Day, the sitting U.S. president places a wreath on the tomb during a ceremony honoring those Americans who have lost their lives in combat. This act begins the Veterans Day proceedings and is immediately followed by a color guard presentation to honor all branches of the U.S. military. This ceremony is our nation’s “thank you” to every individual who has served in the U.S. armed forces.
3. A nation marches
In 1938, Congress officially passed the law that made Veterans Day a national holiday. It did so in response to popular demand. The source of popularity stems largely from the many parades held in city after city across the United States. The largest Veterans Day parade is arguably the New York City event.
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For a quick study, enjoy this short video, courtesy of the History Channel.
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