A Brief History of Veterans Day

11 Nov

Don’t let all the hype about 11/11/11 deter you from the fact that today is Veterans Day. This is the day that you should reach out to all the veterans that you know and thank them for their service. Often times these men and women don’t receive the thanks that they deserve for the sacrifices that they’ve made and today is the perfect day to let them know that they are appreciated.

Veterans Day used to be called Armistice Day and was established by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919 with the intention of honoring the soldiers that gave their lives in World War I. Seven years later, Congress passed another resolution requesting that President Calvin Coolidge issue an additonal proclamation to observe Armistice Day with appropriate ceremonies, and in 1938, Act 52 Stat. 351; 5 U.S. Code, Sec. 87a, officially made November 11 a national holiday, declaring Armistice Day “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace.”

But the Veteran’s Day that we know today came into being because of Alvin King, an owner of a shoe repair shop in Emporia, Kansas. Alvin had the idea to expand Armistice Day to recognize all veterans, not just those that gave their lives in World War I. Alvin made it his personal mission to turn Armistice Day into “All” Veterans Day. It started in Emporia, with local businesses and schools honoring veterans by closing their doors on November 11 and eventually a bill advocating for the holiday made it all the way to Congress where it was signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on May 26, 1954. Congress further amended the act on June 1, 1954 changing the name of Armistice Day to “Veterans Day” of which it has been known since. Way to go Alvin!

We have some great events going on this weekend that honor veterans and if one of these are close to your home, we encourage you to go out and pay tribute to the veterans in your area. Make Alvin proud.

Tonight, November 11 through Sunday, November 27 Medal of Honor Rag by Tom Cole  Sacramento, California  About one in three Vietnam veterans suffered from full or partial Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after the war. It is estimated that over 300,000 of our returning soldiers from the Middle East will have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). “Medal of Honor Rag” by Tom Cole is a solemn true narration of one soldier’s plight; a dramatic, haunting play. Dale “D.J.” Jackson was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic efforts in Vietnam in the 70’s. Disillusioned, despondent and depressed, he has seen countless psychiatrists since his return to the United States from the war and his initial reaction to this new psychiatrist is one of hostility and suspicion.  What follows are bitter and emotional exchanges as these two individuals, both guilty survivors of war, verbally spar until the doctor draws out the horror and disgust that has traumatized D.J.

Tonight, November 11  In Memoriam  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania  To commemorate Veteran’s Day, Choral Arts Philadelphia offers a program exploring the sentiments of mourning and the solemn celebration of life featuring the choral composistions “Musikalische Exequien” by Heinrich Schütz and “Totentanz” by Hugo Distler. Hugo Distler, writing in the early 20th Century, found great inspiration in the music of the Renaissance and the Baroque periods. Much of his work was written during a period of great violence and unrest in Europe. He became a casualty of the Third Reich during World War II. His “Dance of Death,” written towards the end of his life, is a semi-dramatic work for narrator and chorus based on 14 Medieval images found in the famous “Dance of Death” windows in St. Mary’s Church, Lübeck. Both works offer affirmation of life in the face of mourning, as well as meditations on the fleeting nature of existence and the fragility of this world.

Tonight, November 11  Veteran’s Day Cruise  Boston, Massachusetts  This program will focus on the military history of Boston Harbor beginning with the American Revolution up until present day.  The cruise will make a stop at Fort Warren on Georges Island where visitors can experience the history of the Civil War. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on the island!  In an effort to support our troops overseas, particularly Troop #1173, the Boston Harbor Islands and Department of Conservation and Recreation is teaming up with local community groups to gather needed supplies and funds to send care packages abroad. Proceeds from this event will go directly to support this effort. Advanced tickets are no longer available for this cruise but they will have last minute tickets available for sale at the point of departure. Please call 617-223-8666 for availability!

Saturday, November 12  Ovation: An Artists’ Tribute to Veterans  Hermosa Beach, California  The Hermosa Beach Playhouse will be the place to be tomorrow night as dancers, musicians, and actors take the stage to pay tribute to our veterans. With many of our troops returning home from overseas this fall it is the perfect time to honor them and those that have served with an evening of entertainment. Performances include original choreography and dance performance by Lissa Resnick and local professional dancers from Southern California, San Francisco-based violin duo, Double Take, dance drama excerpt from Kathryn Roszak’s “Fifth Book of Peace” an adaptation of Maxine Hong-Kingston’s memoir, an historical medley of songs by Soprano Leah Klaver with a live band, original choreography by Alan Scofield, and original poetry by Alice Taylor. There will be a reception following the performance with the cast, a curated art exhibit by Melody Brown and an Operation Paperback Kick-off with the Friends of the Redondo Beach Public Library.

Sunday, November 13  Army vs. Navy Roller Derby  Lake City, Florida  Join the Hunnies for their next home bout this Sunday at the Skating Palace in Lake City, FL. The Suncoast Quad Squad will be joining the Hunnies to do a special Veteran’s Day weekend themed bout! There are discounted tickets for veteran’s with proof of service. Assorted snacks and non-alchoholic beverages are sold at the concession stand. Also, be sure to join Alachua County Rollers afterwards for a free afterparty!

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

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Posted by on November 11, 2011 in Seasonal


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