“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, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations,” said President Woodrow Wilson upon declaring the first Armistice Day for Nov. 11, 1919.
These remarks came after years of bloodshed and warfare ravaged Europe. The, at 11 p.m. Nov. 11, 1918, the guns fell silent as World War I came to an unofficial end with the signing of the armistice between the Allies and Germany. The Treaty of Versailles, was signed in 1919, which officially ended the “Great War.”
In 1938, Congress passed legislation making Nov. 11 a legal Federal holiday, Armistice Day. In 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower signs legislation changing the name of the legal holiday from Armistice Day to Veteran’s Day.
Now, the somber observance is marked across the nation by parades, gatherings at memorials and other observances. These all take place against a backdrop of continued involvement of U.S. forces in conflicts in the Middle East.
It is often said that if you enjoy freedom, thank a veteran. True. Many courageous service men and women have died fighting for our liberty. Others died assuring those they don’t even know around the world have the same opportunities for freedom.
There is more to the story. It took many great minds to invent a system in which our nation could easily move from one set of elected leaders to another.
Many of these thinkers were not warriors. They did risk their lives, and indeed, many of the founding fathers suffered for their involvement in the American revolutionary cause.
In the turmoil swirling around the roll-out of the Affordable Health Care Act, the partial government shutdown and continued partisan bickering, it is easy to lose sight of just how grand this system really is.
It may, at times, seem disfunctional, but it beats the competition.
As we remember our veterans Monday, we must honor everyone who helped make this nation what it is – still the land of opportunity.