Veterans Day is an opportunity to publicly commemorate the contributions of living veterans.
Armistice Day officially received its name in America in 1926 through a
congressional resolution. It became a national holiday 12 years later by similar
If World War I had been “the war to end all
wars,” November 11 might be still called Armistice Day. Realizing that peace was
equally preserved by veterans of World War II and Korea, Congress decided to
make the day an occasion to honor all those who have served America. In 1954
President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill proclaiming November 11 as Veterans
Day. (Historically, the first Veterans Day parade was held in 1953 in Emporia,
A law passed in 1968 changed the national commemoration of
Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. It soon became apparent, however,
that November 11 was a date of historic significance to many Americans.
Therefore, in 1978 Congress returned the observance to its traditional date.
PEARL HARBOR DAY
On the morning of
December 7, 1941, Japanese bombers staged a surprise attack on U.S. military and
naval forces in Hawaii. In a devastating defeat, the United States suffered
3,435 casualties and loss of or severe damage to 188 planes, 8 battleships, 3
light cruisers, and 4 miscellaneous vessels. Japanese losses were less than 100
personnel, 29 planes, and 5 midget submarines.
The day after the
attack, before a joint session of Congress, President Roosevelt asked Congress
for a declaration of war against Japan. President Roosevelt’s message conveyed
the national outrage over the Pearl Harbor attack by pronouncing December 7,
1941 “a date which will live in infamy.”
FDR expressed outrage at
Japan and confidence in the “inevitable triumph” of the United States. On
December 8, 1941, the United States declared war against Japan; on December 11
Germany and Italy declared war against the United States.
Memorial Day, May 30
(traditional), is a sacred day to all war veterans. America’s collective
consciousness demands that all citizens be reminded of the deaths of their
fellow countrymen during wartime. By honoring the nation’s war dead, we preserve
their memory and thus their service and sacrifice. All U.S. flags should be
displayed at half-staff during the morning hours. At noon, they should be raised
back to full-staff.
The Meaning of Memorial Day
It’s a sacred day to all war veterans: None need to be reminded of the reason
that Memorial Day must be commemorated. But what about the general public, and
more important, future generations? Do most non-veterans really recognize the
importance of the day honoring their fellow Americans killed in war?
Judging from what Memorial Day has become—simply another day off from work—the
answer is a resounding no. Perhaps a reminder is due, then. And it is the duty
of each and every veteran to relay the message.
meaningless without remembrance. America’s collective consciousness demands that
all citizens recall and be aware of the deaths of their fellow countrymen during
Far too often, the nation as a whole takes for granted the
freedoms all Americans enjoy. Those freedoms were paid for with the lives of
others few of us actually knew. That’s why they are all collectively remembered
on one special day.
This should be regarded as a civic obligation.
For this is a national debt that can only be truly repaid by individual
Americans. By honoring the nation’s war dead, we preserve their memory and thus
their service and sacrifice in the memories of future generations.
They came from all walks of life and regions of the country. But they all had
one thing in common—love of and loyalty to country. This bond cemented ties
between them in times of trials, allowing a diverse lot of Americans to achieve
We remember the loss of loved ones, 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 on behalf of others.
Means of paying tribute vary. Pausing for a few moments of personal silence is
available to everyone.
Attending commemorative ceremonies is the
most visible way of demonstrating remembrance: Placing flags at gravesites,
marching in parades, sponsoring patriotic programs, dedicating memorials and
wearing Buddy Poppies are examples.
Whether done individually or
collectively, it is the thought that counts. Personal as well as public acts of
remembering are the ideal. Public displays of patriotism are essential if the
notion of remembering war dead is to be instilled in youth.
America’s older war veterans fast disappear from society’s landscape, there are
fewer and fewer standard-bearers left to carry the torch of remembrance. Such
traditions will live on only if there is a vibrant movement to which that torch
can be passed.
Now, more than in recent years, the enduring
relevance of Memorial Day should be clearly evident. With two wars under way,
the public has no excuse not to remember.
This much is owed to the
more than 4,500 Americans who have died thus far in Afghanistan and
On July 4, 1776, the
signers of the Declaration of Independence boldly asserted that all are “created
equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights,
that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” With these
words, our forefathers formed a new nation and put forth a vision of liberty and
democracy that would forever alter history. Every Fourth of July, Americans
celebrate this pivotal moment in our history, which set into motion the
development of a land of freedom and opportunity unequalled in the
Those whom we lost September
11, 2001, will forever hold a cherished place in our hearts and in the history
of our nation. By a joint resolution approved December 18, 2001, (Public Law
107-89), Congress authorized the president to designate September 11 of each
year as “Patriot Day” to perpetuate the memory of those who perished in the
attack on America and to pursue peace and justice in the world and security at
home. Appropriate ceremonies and activities include a moment of silence
beginning at 8:46 a.m. EDT, remembrance services and candlelight vigils. Flags
should be flown at half-staff on Patriot Day.
Loyalty Day originally began
as “Americanization Day” in 1921 as a counter to the Communists’ May 1
celebration of the Russian Revolution. On May 1, 1930, 10,000 VFW members staged
a rally at New York’s Union Square to promote patriotism. Through a resolution
adopted in 1949, May 1 evolved into Loyalty Day. Observances began in 1950 on
April 28 and climaxed May 1 when more than five million people across the nation
held rallies. In New York City, more than 100,000 people rallied for America. In
1958 Congress enacted Public Law 529 proclaiming Loyalty Day a permanent fixture
on the nation’s calendar.
Recognition Day honors the commitments and the sacrifices made by our nation’s
prisoners of war and those who are still missing in action.
custom, it is on the third Friday in September.
Recognition Day is one of the six days specified by law on which the black
POW/MIA flag shall be flown over federal facilities and cemeteries, post offices
and military installations.
Flag Day is June 14 and
celebrates the official symbol for the United States: our Stars and Stripes.
Flag Day was first recognized by Congress on June 14, 1777, which became know as
Not only is the U.S. flag older than the Union Jack of
Great Britain and the tri-color flag of France, but also is the only flag to
have been flown on the moon.
Congress first stated that there should
be a star and stripe for every state. Our first flag had 13 stars and 7 red and
6 white stripes. In 1794, two new states were added and we had a flag with 15
stars and 15 stripes. By 1818 there were 20 states, but our county was still
using the flag with 15 stars and 15 stripes. Congress thought about having 20
stripes and agreed that it might become a problem because of its size so they
passed a law that said there would be 13 stripes for the original 13 states, and
they would add a star for each new state that joined the union.
U.S. flag is 13 stripes: seven red and six white. A blue field with 50 stars is
located next to the staff in the upper left corner of the flag. It extends from
the top to the lower edge of the fourth red stripe. The stars are arranged in
alternating rows of six and five representing the 50 states of the United
States. The stars do not represent any given state.
The colors used
in the flag give special meaning to the flag: Red for valor and zeal; white for
hope and cleanliness of life; and blue — the color of heaven — for reverence
The stars are an ancient symbol of the heavens. Our
flag’s 50 stars represent each state as part of the nation, but also a separate
level of government. Our federal government was not given the power to control,
so that each state would be able to govern themselves in those things they could
do better. When you are looking at the flag, you are looking at the magnificent
history of all Americans who have lived before us, your own ancestors, the most
enduring nation of free people that has ever existed.