Tomorrow is Friday, November 11th, when schools around our nation observe the Veterans Day holiday.
However, some children and some adults are often confused and wonder, “What is the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day?”
Both holidays were designed to acknowledge those men and women who are part of the United States Armed Forces and are dutifully honored with parades and special gatherings.
While Veterans Day honors the military, Memorial Day, observed on the last Monday in May, is “in memory” of those soldiers that have died in service for our country, usually in battle or a result of injuries from the war zone where they serve.
Although we do honor those that have died on Veterans Day, we also take the day to thank and honor those who serve – in wartime or during times of peace.
Mainly, we take Veterans Day to thank veterans for their service and take time to appreciate their contributions to our military to protect our national security and celebrate all who have served our country, not just those that have died.
This week, Greenbrook Elementary students waved American flags, sang patriotic songs and recited poems to honor veterans. I’m sure other schools in the San Ramon Valley did similar tributes.
At the end of World War One, known as the “Great War,” this battle ended when we signed the treaty known as “The Treaty of Versailles” on June 28, 1919. However, it was actually six months earlier when fighting ended on the 11th day of the 11th month, which is why November 11th was regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars” and why Veterans Day is held every November 11th.
President Woodrow Wilson announced this date to the public as the first remembrance of Armistice Day (which was renamed to Veterans day) with the following words; "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…"
The original idea for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11 a.m. Soon following, it turned into an entire day’s observance for many work places.
I don’t think most students or teachers, or anyone, for that matter, mind the day off, but we fail to understand the big deal in observing the “holiday.”
What we need to do is reflect on the gratitude we should have for those who made it possible to live the lives we do… each and every day, in freedom.