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.
ARMED FORCES DAY
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
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
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
Means of paying tribute vary. Pausing for a few
moments of personal silence is an option for