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Though Congress dubbed November 11

Armistice Day in 1926 (commemorating the end

of WWI on Nov. 11, 1918), it wasn’t until 1938

that it became a legal national holiday. It would

retain that designation until 1954 when

Congress changed the name to Veterans Day.

During the Vietnam War, unfortunately, the holiday’s

meaning was minimized when President

Lyndon Johnson signed a law making the

observance of Veterans Day the fourth Monday

in October to placate those who merely wanted

a long weekend. It wasn’t until 1978 that

Congress restored the day to its rightful place

on America’s historic calendar.

Veterans Day is not a day to memorialize those

lost to war, but an opportunity to publicly commemorate

the contributions of living veterans.


In 1950, Armed Forces Day was created to

replace separate Army, Navy and Air Force

days. The single-day celebration stemmed from

the unification of the armed forces under the

Department of Defense.

Annually, this day is celebrated the third

Saturday of May. It honors the dedicated individuals

who wear America’s uniform.

This now lesser-known holiday once was celebrated

with much jubilation. There were

parades, open houses and receptions.

Today, it is primarily celebrated on military

installations where open houses take place.

In recent years, with the renewed public pride in

the armed forces, it has taken on more meaning


The traditional practice on Memorial Day is to

place flowers and/or wreaths on the graves of

veterans. Until 1882, this was known as

Decoration Day. At no time, however, was

Memorial Day a day to decorate graves of anyone

other than veterans.

Sacrifice is meaningless without remembrance.

America’s collective consciousness demands

that all citizens be aware of and recall on special

occasions the deaths of their fellow countrymen

during wartime. This is why we commemorate

Memorial Day.

Many people do not realize that Memorial Day

was always observed on May 30 until the

changed it to the fourth Monday of May to, once

again, appease those seeking three-day weekends.

The change itself undermines the sacrifices

Americans have made. This day of remembrance

is all-inclusive, spanning generations

and some 60 military actions that claimed 1.4

million lives.

It is a day to remember the loss of defenders, a

sense of loss that takes group form. In essence,

America is commemorating those who made the

greatest sacrifice possible — giving one’s own

life selflessly.

Means of paying tribute vary. Pausing for a few

moments of personal silence is an option for


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