Each year when Nov. 11 rolls around, many of us go about our day like any other day – attending class, going to work, playing a sport or just relaxing. However, many of us forget it is a national holiday and that we should take the time to pause and thank our past and present members of the armed services.Veterans Day is officially observed on Nov. 11, which is a day set aside to thank and honor all those who have served in the military, both living and deceased. Veterans Day is commonly mistaken with Memorial Day. Memorial Day honors those who have died in the line of duty.
Veterans Day was first established in the United States as Armistice Day to celebrate the conclusion of World War I. However, after WWII many citizens felt that it should be a holiday honoring the veterans of all wars and not just those of WWI. In 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower changed the name to Veterans Day and asked that all Americans honor the bravery and sacrifices of America’s veterans.
According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, “the important purpose of Veterans Day is to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.”
America has developed into the country it is today from the countless sacrifices that veterans and their families have endured to protect our country. Many veterans leave America’s soil and never return while others return home and experience many physical and mental hardships as a result of their service. Family members are also affected since their life is put on hold to anxiously wait for news about their loved ones.
Veterans Day is considered both a federal and state holiday. Most schools do not close but they schedule assemblies to honor veterans. Communities across the United States also join in celebrating Veterans Day by hosting various parades and ceremonies.
Over the course of history, Veterans Day is a holiday that has lost its true meaning. Everyone observes Veterans Day differently in spite of his or her personal experiences. Those directly affected by war such as service members and their loved ones and friends, are more likely to take time out of their busy schedules to remember and thank them. While others may have no direct connection to any member of the military and will continue their day like normal.
Veterans are not just aged men from different VFW Posts that stand on street corners or in front of the local grocery stores collecting donations and handing out poppies. Veterans are everywhere -our parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, coworkers, and classmates.
Different ways in which people can celebrate Veterans Day include displaying the American flag at their home or attending local ceremonies or parades. People can also visit various battlefields, military parks and historic sites, which have been preserved by the National Park Service to honor the service of America’s veterans.
In West Chester each year, the community is welcome to attend events which celebrate Veterans Day. This year, the annual Veterans Day Parade took place on Sunday, Nov. 8. The parade was led by the Chester County detachment of the Marine Corps League. On Veterans Day, the Chester County Chapter of the Disabled American Veterans will reveal a monument to Chester County’s disabled veterans. The ceremony will take place at the Historic Chester County Courthouse at 11 a.m. on Nov.11.
This year, don’t let Nov. 11 become just another day, take a minute to remember what America’s veterans have done for each of us and give them thanks whether it is by attending a parade, visiting a historic site or pausing for one minute to reflect.
Melissa Stack is a fourth-year student majoring in communications with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at MS626731@wcupa.edu.