Raising Flags, Awareness & Respect
Lessons on the History of Veterans Day and Showing Support to Those Who’ve Served
Every year on November 11th, Americans pause to reflect on the bravery and heroism of the men and women who have defended our country’s freedom. Veterans Day, originally known as Armistice Day in honor of the truce with Germany that essentially ended World War I, was recognized for the first time in 1919 by President Woodrow Wilson.
Almost 20 years later, in May of 1938, it was designated a federal holiday. Raymond Weeks, a World War II veteran, began celebrating all who had served, not just soldiers from World War I, and he encouraged the government to formally recognize all former members of the military. That is why, in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially renamed the holiday Veterans Day.
Most of us are familiar with the Veterans Day Ceremony held each year at Arlington National Cemetery. The solemn ceremony begins promptly at 11 a.m. with a wreath placed at the Tomb of the Unknowns and continues with a parade of colors put on by veterans’ groups, as well as speeches from some of the country’s top officials. The event is an annual celebration of those who have served in the armed forces, whose patriotism inspired them to sacrifice their personal comforts and safety to protect the lives of their fellow citizens.
A Veterans Day celebration does not have to be elaborate to be meaningful. By taking the time to recognize veterans in your community, you are sending a powerful message about just how much you value their service and commitment.
The following are a few suggestions for some meaningful ways you and your business or organization can pay tribute to
Hold a Flag-Raising Ceremony. Lead participants in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singing the National Anthem. Invite local veterans or veterans’ groups to participate.
Host a Musical Program. Ask school bands or community music groups to take the stage and perform a selection of patriotic songs.
Sponsor a Poster Contest. Businesses can hold a contest encouraging school-aged children to create a poster depicting what Veterans Day means to them. Hang up all entries at the office and share the winners on social media.
Pick Up a Book. Librarians at both public and school libraries can create eye-catching displays featuring biographies of military personnel, as well as nonfiction accounts of battles and the time periods during which they took place.
Give Back. Organize a group of coworkers, friends or classmates, and donate your time to a charity that provides assistance to veterans or their families.
No matter how you choose to mark the occasion, Veterans Day is the ideal opportunity for Americans to thank former service members for everything they have done to defend our country and protect our way of life.
By Jamie McAllister