Veterans Day honors men and women who have served in the United States armed services. Veterans Day is a legal federal holiday in the United States. It is celebrated on November 11th. The United Kingdom celebrates November 11 as Armistice Day. It is not a legal holiday, but special observances celebrate the armistice that ended World War I on Nov. 11, 1918. Canada has a legal holiday called Remembrance Day that is celebrated on November 11. Veterans Day celebrations in the United States include parades and speeches. Special services are held at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, on Veterans Day. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as Armistice Day to remind Americans of the tragedies of war. A 1938 law made the day a federal holiday. In 1954, Congress changed the holiday's name to Veterans Day to honor all United States veterans. [Source: The World Book Encyclopedia]
Veteran's Day Remembered
[An original speech, written and presented by
Americanism Committee Chairman William "Doc" Ryan,
during a Veteran's Day Service at the Boca Raton Cemetery
November 11, 2002]
On the Mall in our Nation's Capital, between the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial, stand the Vietnam Memorial Wall and, the tribute to my generation's war, the Korean Memorial. There were many conflicts during the last century that involved American citizens. Of all the armed involvements there is one that stands alone in terms of total commitment by all the American people -- World War Two. In the late 1930s, as the forces of evil and darkness began their siege of European nations, America tended to stand aside, looking on and offering moral support. After all, we fought World War One and remembered it as "the War to end all Wars." The German onslaught was a hard lesson in just how quickly circumstances can change. On December 7, 1941 a "Day of Infamy" was proclaimed by President Franklin Roosevelt. The Japanese left us with no choice but to become totally immersed in a war of survival. This was not someone else's war, but an attack of a magnitude that threatened, for the first time, the very identity and sovereignty of our young nation. The declaration of war by the Japanese, in tandem with the Germans and the Italians, brought this response from the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Sir Winston Churchill. Churchill stated, "Many people have been astonished, that on the same day, the Japanese have seen fit to declare war on the United States of America and the British Empire. They have indeed embarked on a very considerable undertaking. What kind of people do they think we are? Is it possible they don't realize that we will persevere against them until they are taught a lesson that they and the world will never forget." These were brave words, but was his confidence warranted? Our American fleet was destroyed at Pearl Harbor. Our army was under-trained and undermanned. As a nation we were woefully unprepared. The Germans and the Japanese had been building their war machines for years. German General Hermann Goerring reassured his skeptics, "Americans can't build airplanes and tanks, but they are very good at making refrigerators and razor blades." He was wrong! The same processes that were used to mass-produce consumer goods were transferred over to make war goods. From 1937 to 1941 Japan prided itself on tripling the size of its air force from 1,500 to 4,500 planes. By 1943, American factories were producing 7,000 planes a month. Henry Kaiser designed the 10,000-ton Liberty Ship that could be produced in four and one-half days and we launched over 8,000 during the war. Our service people fought and died in the various military theatres in Europe and the Pacific. However, it was the mobilization of our domestic resources that eventually made it possible for our military to overcome and conquer our enemies. At the Big Three Conference in Tehran, Soviet Dictator Joseph Stalin offered a toast, "To American produc- tivity, without which this war would have been lost." Women came out of the homes and into the factories. My mother, Lillian, who had never worked outside the home, went to Miami Airport and became a riveter. Lillian, not Rosie the Riveter, became an integral part of a commitment by all Americans to preserve our national heritage. Now, 57 years later, we honor all those Americans, dead and living, who paid an enormous price so future generations could live in freedom and prosperity. The wisdom of that sacrifice is being fulfilled worldwide. More and more communist and socialist economies are embracing democratic principles. American's bravery, sacrifice, courage and selfless patriotism defended not only our American way of life, but has brought democracy, freedom and liberty to millions of people in nations near and far. To this end we salute all our World War Two Veterans and all Americans who made our victory possible. God Bless You One and All -- and God Bless America.