“The Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, marking the official end of World War I. Nonetheless, the armistice date of November 11, 1918, remained in the public imagination as the date that marked the end of the conflict.”
But somehow, this part I forgot, though I was alive at the time. In 1968, “Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which sought to ensure three-day weekends for federal employees—and encourage tourism and travel—by celebrating four national holidays (Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Columbus Day) on Mondays.” I had forgotten that Veterans Day was part of the Monday holiday package.
“The observation of Veterans Day was set as the fourth Monday in October. The first Veterans Day under the new law was Monday, October 25, 1971; confusion ensued as many states disapproved of this change and continued to observe the holiday on its original date.
“In 1975, after it became evident that the actual date of Veterans Day carried historical and patriotic significance to many Americans, President Gerald Ford signed a new law returning the observation of Veterans Day to November 11th beginning in 1978.” This oddly pleased me. Not everything has to be shoehorned into a Monday holiday.
I used to correct people who would confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. So pedantic, I suppose. “Memorial Day (the fourth Monday in May) honors American service members who died in service to their country or as a result of injuries incurred during battle, while Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans—living or dead—but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.”
Still, I miss the term Armistice Day, which is what the holiday was called before World War II and the Korean conflict. “In 1954, after lobbying efforts by veterans’ service organizations, the 83rd U.S. Congress amended the 1938 act that had made Armistice Day a holiday, striking the word ‘Armistice’ in favor of ‘Veterans.'”
Did you know there is a Veterans Day poster contest? I didn’t either. Here’s the winning design for 2022, which frankly doesn’t excite me very much.
I worry about the conditions veterans experience. BVA points to unemployment, their relationship with themselves, homelessness, physical handicaps, and poor mental health as very real issues.
Organizations such as the VFW and Sound Off note a sad situation. “Between 19% and 44% of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan meet criteria for mental health disorders, such as PTSD or depression. Yet, 47% do not seek mental health support.” Sound Off and other groups “provide a platform where military members who would otherwise avoid mental health support can engage anonymously with peers like you who can understand their experiences.”
I like a good parade occasionally. But Thank you for your service rings hollow until the country does better by the people it has put in harm’s way.