On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, World War I, then known as 'The Great War' or 'The War to End All Wars' finally came to a close.
To mark the occasion, President Woodrow Wilson declared November 11 'Armistice Day.' It was made a federal holiday by Congress on May 13, 1938. Initially, the holiday commemorated and honored the sacrifice of those who served in World War I.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower changed the nature of the holiday in 1954 when he urged Congress to allow the day to celebrate the sacrifices made by the veterans of all wars. Hence the name of the holiday was changed to Veterans Day.
Veterans Day is a day of thanks for those who did their duty for their country and served in its wars. The day is for the veterans themselves, those who have survived the horror of wars and made sacrifices for their country.
Presently, there are less than 50 American veterans of World War I left alive. The war ended 87 years ago and any surviving soldiers would be more than 100 years old.
Lloyd Brown, now 104 years old and a World War I veteran admitted, 'There's not too many of us around any more.'
Brown still recalls the celebrations when the armistice was announced. 'For the servicemen there were lots of hugs and kisses,' Brown recalled. He was a seaman aboard the battleship USS New Hampshire, in port stateside when the fighting stopped. 'We were so happy that the war was over.'
In recent years, the significance of Veterans Day has become lost to many Americans and parades are held less frequently. America should never forget the sacrifices made by our veterans from all wars. Politicians may make grave errors that get us into unnecessary and/or poorly planned wars, but that does nothing to negate the sacrifice that millions of ordinary Americans have made over the years for their country. For this, all veterans should be recognized and thanked.