BY AUSTIN RUFF
A Veterans Celebration was held at Stouffer Lounge in the Memorial Union in honor of Veterans Day on Tuesday. Attendees could write the name of a veteran on a whiteboard to honor their memory, or write words of encouragement and support for our veterans. Students also filled out cards with messages of thanks that will be sent to veterans in the community.
This Veterans Celebration is one of many that will take place across the country this Veterans Day. Unlike Memorial Day or Armed Forces Day, Veterans Day honors all US Veterans from all branches of service. The federal holiday, happening annually on November 11, first arose as Armistice Day, after the horrors of World War I. Armistice Day celebrated the ending of the First World War, which ceased with an armistice on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. President Woodrow Wilson commemorated it with an address to the country a year later, marking the first Armistice Day.
After yet another world war, a veteran named Raymond Weeks had the idea to expand the holiday to include veterans of all wars. He led a delegation to General Dwight D. Eisenhower, an early supporter of the idea. A few years later, in 1954, a US Representative from Kansas, Ed Rees, introduced a bill establishing the holiday at the federal level. President Eisenhower, also a Kansas native, signed the bill into law on May 26, 1954. Congress then amended the bill a few days later, changing the word “Armistice” to “Veterans” giving us the modern holiday. Employers often mark the holiday by closing their doors, and all federal offices are closed. Parades and other forms of celebration also mark the occasion.
The US holiday coincides with other related holidays abroad. “Remembrance Day” is celebrated on the same day in Britain and its Commonwealth nations (former empire). Armistice Day is still celebrated each year in the nations of France, Belgium, and Serbia. On the centenary of the armistice in 2018, some 60 heads of state observed parades and celebrations at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
Remember to thank a veteran this Veterans Day for fighting to keep us free.