Friday, November 10, 2023, is Veterans Day, a federal holiday in the United States. National, state, and local government offices will be closed in commemoration. Most businesses will be open.
Do you pause for a moment of silence at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month? I remember, decades ago, in grade school, we all did so in observance of Armistice Day, even though the name of the commemoration had been official changed to Veterans Day way back in 1954.
Without question, we do right to honor our soldiers, seamen, airmen, marines, and coast guard with a public holiday. But let us not forget the origins of Veterans Day/Armistice Day, as remembrance of the end of the "War to End All Wars." Thomas Hardy wrote And There Was a Great Calm on the occasion of the signing of the armistice, here's one stanza --
Breathless they paused. Out there men raised their glance
To where had stood those poplars lank and lopped,
As they had raised it through the four years’ dance
Of Death in the now familiar flats of France;
And murmured, 'Strange, this! How? All firing stopped?'
In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. In 1926 Congress officially encouraged the observance of the day throughout the nation, but in was not until 1938 that Armistice Day became a legal federal holiday.
In 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars and President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first Veterans Day Proclamation. Subsequent Presidents have continued the practice of issuing such proclamations.
By the way, Veterans Day is always on November 11th, which this year is a Monday. In 1968 the Uniform Holiday Bill removed several federal holidays from their traditional dates, placing them on Mondays in order to create three-day weekends. But many were not pleased with this tinkering with Veterans Day and in 1975 President Gerald R. Ford signed the law which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978. This action supported the desires of the overwhelming majority of state legislatures, all major veterans service organizations and the American people. The exception is when Veterans Day falls on the weekend, in which case it is moved to the nearest weekday.
For more information on the celebration of Veterans Day, see www.va.gov/opa/vetsday
God Bless the United States of America!