Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day. At the first Armistice Day, on Nov. 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson stated:
“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 …”
Veterans Day is celebrated on Nov. 11 and signifies the end of World War I, which ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. In 1954, the name was changed from Armistice Day to Veterans Day to show tribute to all veterans from all American wars.
On this day, we honor all United States military veterans both living and deceased who have fought to secure the liberty that our country has. It is a time to thank all veterans for their service to this great nation.
On this day a ceremony is held at Arlington National Cemetery at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, beginning at 11 am on Nov. 11. A color guard made up of members of each military branch attends the ceremony. At this time, the president places a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This tomb represents all our fallen veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice. When the wreath is placed on the tomb, a bugle sounds.
The inscription on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier says:
“Here rests in honored glory an American soldier unknown but to God.”
Like other holidays, we enjoy having the day off from work and attending parades and ceremonies. We tend to not think about what the true meaning of this day is. It is important to keep in mind that we need to remember the men and women whose bravery allowed us to live as we do today.
We need to not only remember them, but also support them upon their return home. We can do this by lending support to the organizations that help our veterans with education, housing, and medical services. Some of these organizations are Vietnam Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, VFW, American Legion and the Wounded Warrior Program, among others. You can attend any one of the fundraising events that these organizations hold during the year, not only on Veterans Day.
Our veterans are truly amazing. Not only have they served our country, but many of them also work tirelessly upon their return home with organizations that provide support to our veterans.
Another way to show our support is to teach our children the true meaning of Veterans Day and what a veteran truly is. Explain to them what freedoms we enjoy and how we can keep them. Talk about the sacrifices that our veterans have made for us and take them to a Veterans Day parade where they can listen to the speakers. Our children are the ones who will continue to hold dear what our veterans have sacrificed for us.
Please show your support for our veterans, not only on Veterans Day, but throughout the year by participating in the many fundraising events that veterans organizations have throughout the year. Lending our support is one way of letting them know that they are not forgotten.
God bless our veterans, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.
Ronald G. Rios is the director of the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders. He writes the occasional column for Newspaper Media Group.