POSTED: Monday, November 11, 2013 - 6:25pm
UPDATED: Monday, November 11, 2013 - 6:27pm
No one called it World War I obviously, until there was an even bigger World War II.
It was the Great War.
From 1914 to 1918, the powers in Europe, along with Japan and Russia and eventually the United States for the last year, tore themselves apart, and lost a generation of young men to the muddy hell that was trench warfare in the early part of the century.
The Armistice that ended the fighting, there wasn’t really a surrender, was signed in a French railway car on November 11, 1918.
And that day was declared a holiday the next year by President Wilson.
After World War II, an American veteran named Raymond Weeks from Birmingham, Alabama hit on the idea of expanding the day beyond those who served in the Great War, to all American veterans.
And in 1954, the name was changed from Armistice Day to Veterans Day, and though it is a national holiday, only about 21% of employers recognize it as such with a day off for employees.
Raymond Weeks was later awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Reagan in 1982.
He died in 1985, and today, only 1-million of the 16-million men who served in World War II are still with us.
And they have been joined by their brothers and sisters from Korea, Viet Nam, Grenada, Panama, the Wars in the Middle East, and the Cold War in between.
So, amid the war movie marathons on TV and the 20% off sales in stores, Veterans Day is a time to stop, and think about those who served, anywhere, anytime.
Whether they faced shot and shell, or served no farther away than Fort Benning, they served…and this is their day.