08 Nov Thank You for Your Service: Veterans Day 101
Thank You for Your Service: Veterans Day 101
By: Pam Lamberger
This day, dedicated to the recognition of those who serve as members of our military, arrives dependably each year like the cadence of a military march. It is easy to take for granted the sacrifices of these, our fellow citizens. Based on recent Census statistics, there are 18.2 million veterans in the U.S. today, just 7.6 % of the population. Within that number, the largest group is Gulf-war era vets at 7.1 million, followed by Viet Nam era vets at 6.8 million. Veterans of the Korean Conflict number at 1.6 million, with just 771,000 remaining from WWII.
Today should serve as a reminder that we owe these men and women a substantial debt. Our global community is rife with discord. Keeping the peace among national and international groups with diametrically opposing viewpoints often requires the show of strength. These folks represent our common interests, often in dangerous places. They do the tough work, witness the devastating outcomes of violence, and often experience visible and invisible wounds themselves. Some make the ultimate sacrifice – laying down their very lives in defense of our country, our values, and our democratic way of life. Saying, “Thank you for your service.” is sorely inadequate but it is a start. Locally, veterans organizations offer the residents of Hamilton County a chance to attend ceremonial events to recognize our hometown heroes. The Veterans Day 2019 event will take place at the Veterans Memorial on the square in Noblesville (behind the old sheriff’s residence) at 10:55 a.m. on Nov. 11, 2019.
Another way to show respect and to honor our veterans is to learn about this national holiday and then make a conscious effort to internalize its importance. Initially known as Armistice Day the day’s purpose was to celebrate the official end of WWI on November 11, 1918 – the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. On the first anniversary of the Treaty of Versailles, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed that November 11 should be a day to commemorate the peace process and to honor WWI veterans. It was not until November 11, 1938 that the date was legislated as an official national holiday. As the decades passed, U.S. soldiers served in WWII and the Korean Conflict. In the interest of inclusivity toward all veterans, Armistice Day transitioned to Veterans Day in 1954. During 1971-77, under the Uniform Holidays Bill, we celebrated Veterans Day on the fourth Monday in October; this was to enable three-day weekends for federal workers. Some states voiced opposition to this directive and refused to make the change. Confusion reigned until Jerald Ford hit the reset button, returning the day to November 11 beginning in 1978. We continue to celebrate Veterans Day on Nov. 11 to this day – unless it falls on a weekend. If it lands on a Sat., we observe it on the previous Fri. and if it happens to fall on a Sun., we celebrate the next day, on Mon.
Veterans Day differs from Memorial Day in that it honors living veterans who served with honor, while Memorial Day is set aside to honor those who died in service or because of injuries incurred during service.
An interesting fact for you grammar geeks – there is no apostrophe in Veterans Day. This is because the day does not belong to veterans, rather it is a day dedicated to veterans, one on which we recognize and pay tribute to these special individuals – it offers a reminder that we should show our respect and gratitude to our dedicated service members whenever possible.
The library has a variety of materials for and about veterans in print, audio, video and digital formats and both non-fiction and fiction genres. Below are a few you might wish to explore:
- The GI Bill: The Law that Changed America by Milton Greenberg
- Chicken Soup for the Veteran’s Soul by Jack Canfield
- What Every Veteran Should Know by Veteran’s Information Service
- Indiana Veterans of Foreign Wars, a 2019 Then & Now Publication
- Life After the Military: A Handbook for Transitioning Veterans by Janelle Moore
- American Veterans on War by Elise Forbes Tripp (Hoopla eBook)
- My Vietnam, Your Iraq (DVD)
- Warrior’s Return: Restoring the Soul After War by Edward Tick
- Alive Day Memories (DVD)
- Born on the Fourth of July (DVD)