By Veronica Burniston
Tucked between the prominent American holidays of Halloween and Thanksgiving, Veteran’s Day is often overlooked or celebrated with far less enthusiasm than its counterparts. The history of Veteran’s Day dates back to World War I – “the War to end all wars.” After four years of alliance-driven conflict, the first World War came to an armistice – an agreement by opposing sides to end the war – at 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918.
In honor of unknown American soldiers buried in locations as far away as Westminster Abbey in England and the Arc de Triomphe in France, ceremonies were held on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in numerous countries for the brave men who lost their lives in the first modern war. Eventually, the November 11 ceremonies became Armistice Day, a day where nations pay tribute to those who died for their countries.
It wasn’t until 1954, when President Eisenhower signed a bill passed by Congress, that Armistice Day changed to Veteran’s Day in the United States.
Today Veteran’s Day celebrates and honors all of the wonderful men and women who have served in the U.S. military.
In 2019 about 17 million veterans lived in the United States according to Census.gov. Roughly 50.4 percent were 65 years old and older. It is estimated nearly 400,000 of those veterans currently live in Tennessee. So as November 11 rolls in, let all Americans remember the sacrifices made by fellow citizens from World War I to the Vietnam War to the War on Terrorism. Every life has value, and it is the responsibility of the living to wisely recognize that freedom comes at a heavy price – the price of life.
If given the opportunity, thank a veteran for his or her service to this great country. Without their sacrifices, America would neither be the land of the free nor the brave.For additional information on the origins of Veteran’s Day and statistics, visit the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs website at www.va.gov.