November 12, 2020

Yesterday was Veteran’s Day.  World War I officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919.  However, the fighting stopped seven months earlier with an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany.  This was effective on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.  November 11, 1918 is generally regarded as the end of the war.  President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day the following year.  The original concept was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m.  The name was changed to Veterans Day in 1954 to honor veterans of all wars.

Melissa always asks why I like to watch war movies on TV, so I was surprised when she switched the channel last night to a documentary, “We stand Alone Together:  The Men of
Easy Company” produced in 2001.  E Company, 2nd Battalion of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division (the “Screaming Eagles”), held the distinction of parachuting behind enemy lines on D-Day, leading the invasion of Holland, holding the line at Bastogne in the Battle of the Bulge, and capturing Hitler’s Eagles’ Nest at the end of the war.  Over a period of two years, Mark Cowen and his crew travelled to 30 U.S. and ten European cities, to interview the veterans.  The stories, told by the veterans themselves, were made famous in the mini-series Band of Brothers.  There were 140 men who formed the original Easy Company in 1942.  A total of 366 men belonged to Easy Company over the next three years and 49 men were killed in action.  Easy and the 506th PIR was disbanded in November 1945 but reactivated in 1954 as a training unit.

Veterans Day became part of The Uniform Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250)) signed on June 28, 1968, and was intended to ensure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day.  Many states did not agree and continued to celebrate the holidays on their original dates.  It was apparent that the commemoration of this day was a matter of historic and patriotic significance to a great number of citizens, and on September 20th, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978.

Thoughts:  Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 preserves the historical significance of the date and helps focus attention on the purpose to honor America’s veterans.  We have never been shy about letting others know how we feel in America.  There are times when this is about others and it is appropriate.  There are other times when it is about me regardless of others.  This is not appropriate behavior.  Do the work.  Follow the science.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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