November 11 is Veterans Day - a day to honor and pay tribute to the nearly 25 million veterans who have served and who continue to serve the United States. This holiday was originally known as Armistice Day in celebration and remembrance of the Armistice, or truce, which was signed on Monday, November 11, 1918, ending World War I.
The following year, President Woodrow Wilson issued an Armistice Day proclamation, declaring that “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.”
At the time, World War I had surpassed all other wars in terms of its level of destruction. It was thought to be the war to end all wars and when the truce that brought down the curtain on the war was finally signed, the entire world rejoiced.
Americans continued to acknowledge the courage of WWI veterans on each November thereafter, and in 1938, the U.S. Congress passed a bill officially designating November 11th as the day to “be dedicated to the cause of world peace and … hereafter celebrated and known as Armistice Day.
May 24, 1954, nearly two decades later and after World War II ended, Armistice Day was renamed by Congress. Since that time, Veterans Day honors ALL veterans who have fought in American wars.
Official national ceremonies for Veterans Day take place at Arlington National Cemetery, our country’s most historic military cemetery. The cemetery is located in Arlington, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington D.C. The Tomb of the Unknowns represents the brave missing and unknown service members. This is the military’s collective way to show respect for all the unknown dead from America’s wars. To symbolize our nation’s tribute to those who died in war, the President, or his representative, places a wreath on the tomb followed by the playing of the traditional “Taps.”
We should recognize that Veterans are courageous men and women who chose to potentially sacrifice their lives in order to instill social and political equality in various parts of the world. Cape Girardeau is home to a State Veterans Home where approximately 150 veterans reside. I encourage you to take time and visit with them. Each of them has a story to tell.
There is a Veterans Memorial at the Missouri State Capitol. It features a limestone colonnade, terraced waterfall, reflecting pool and eight black marble posts forming a path called the “Veterans Walk.”
This Veterans Day, I encourage you to take time to remember those who are currently serving in the military. These future veterans continue our nation’s proud tradition of fighting for the freedom that our forefathers secured for us.