Friday, November 10, 2006

Celebrating Veteran's Day

Veteran's Day should be taken more seriously than it is today. Most public school students get the day off but no markets are closed. Beginning as Armistice Day, it was changed to Veteran's Day in 1954:

In Emporia, Kansas, on November 11, 1953, instead of an Armistice Day program, there was a Veterans' Day observance. Ed Rees, of Emporia, was so impressed that he introduced a bill into the House to change the name to Veterans' Day. After this passed, Mr. Rees wrote to all state governors and asked for their approval and cooperation in observing the changed holiday. The name was changed to Veterans' Day by Act of Congress on May 24, 1954. In October of that year, President Eisenhower called on all citizens to observe the day by remembering the sacrifices of all those who fought so gallantly, and through rededication to the task of promoting an enduring peace. The President referred to the change of name to Veterans' Day in honor of the servicemen of all America's wars.

What was the spark that drove these men, some now elderly and infirm but all proud? Macaulay's words come to mind:

Then out spake brave Horatius,
The Captain of the Gate:
"To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his gods,"

-Thomas Babington Macaulay; Lays of Ancient Rome

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