On the eleventh day of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour, Veterans Day will be observed across America. There will be memorial services in schools, at memorial sites, and in other public settings. The Aurora Public Library District will be closed on November 11, as will most government facilities, but what exactly is Veterans Day? How did Veterans Day begin? The Library has plenty of material about Veterans Day that you can check out, but for right now, here’s a small crash course.
In 1918 a truce was declared between the Allied Nations and the Germans during World War I on November 11. And while the official end of the Great War did not come until the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, for many Americans, the ending had occurred with the declaration of peace the previous November. Armistice Day was officially celebrated on November 11, 1919 at President Woodrow Wilson’s proclamation. Armistice Day was declared a legal federal holiday in 1938. In 1954, President Eisenhower renamed Armistice Day to Veterans Day after World War II and the war with Korea. Veterans Day honors all American veterans, living or dead, who have served in all wars. Veterans Day is also a day to thank living veterans who have served during wartime and peacetime.
During World War I, Canadian John McCrae penned the poem, “In Flanders Fields” in 1915 after a friend of his was killed during the Second Battle of Ypres. His poem is the reason that poppies — particularly the red corn poppy — have become the symbol for the remembrance of fallen soldiers. In 1920, the American Legion adopted the poppy as a symbol of remembrance thanks to the efforts of Moina Michael.
There are approximately 23.2 million military veterans living in the United States, with 9.2 million veterans over the age of 65 and 1.9 million veterans under the age of 35. There are plenty of ways you can let a veteran know that you appreciate them, but the most simple and underrated way is just to thank veterans for their service. It is especially important for younger people to acknowledge and thank veterans, but every American should always thank veterans and acting military members for their service.
On behalf of everyone at the Aurora Public Library District, I want to say thank you to each and every veteran for his or her service.