Formerly known as Armistice Day

changed in 1954

Armistice DayWhen I read telling of the history of Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, most of it was quite familiar.

“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.”

Armistice Day

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.'”

But three states recognize Veterans’ Day/Armistice Day: Mississippi, Rhode Island, and Texas. Here’s a song by Paul Simon.

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.

Here are some 2022 Veterans Day discounts and freebies, plus more specific deals at restaurants.


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.

What and why IS Armed Forces Day?

“We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence… The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

As a guy who loves celebrating holidays, I must nevertheless admit that I had had no idea what Armed Forces Day was, distinct from Memorial Day and Veterans Day, though I saw it on my calendar each year. And I never even thought much about it until very recently.

From TimeAndDate:

“On August 31, 1949, Louis Johnson, who was the United States’ Secretary of Defense, announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy and Air Force Days. The event stemmed from the armed forces’ unification under one department – the Department of Defense. The Army, Navy and Air Force leagues adopted the newly formed day. The Marine Corps League declined to drop support for Marine Corps Day but supports Armed Forces Day too.”

Okay, so Memorial Day honors the war dead, and Veterans Day commemorates, well, military veterans.

“Armed Forces Day was a day for the military to show ‘state-of-the-art’ equipment to Americans. It was also a day to honor and acknowledge Americans in the armed forces. Parades, open houses, receptions and air shows were held at the inaugural Armed Forces Day.” It is celebrated on the third Saturday of May. It is also part of Armed Forces Week, which begins on the second Saturday of May.

Ah, so like that expensive parade scheduled in November that kind of remind me of the Soviet Union or North Korea? And how are we supposed to treat military contractors such as Halliburton, who made nearly $40 million from the Iraq war?

MilitaryInfo adds:

“Since Armed Forces Day is not a federal holiday, many military installations are available for public viewing for those wishing to take part in the celebration or to learn more about our country’s military. Some other ways to celebrate the special occasion include wearing red, white and blue; flying the American Flag, talking with or writing to a military member, donating to military-based organizations, or sending care packages for those serving overseas.”

About three dozen other countries have Armed Services Day, though not at the same time: June 30 in the United Kingdom, October 6 in Egypt. Here are some other dates.

Admittedly, I struggle with militarism, big time. I worry about what President Eisenhower, a former general, called the military industrial complex, “what Eisenhower called a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions… we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence… The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

February 14: Saint Valentine and his day

Saint Valentine is represented in pictures with birds and roses.

I was looked at the Catholic Online about Saint Valentine. For a Protestant kid, I’ve long been rather fascinated by the whole Roman Catholic canonization process.

The stories of Saint Valentine may involve two different saints by the same name. Someone of that name was arrested multiple times for trying to convert people to Christianity. marrying Christian couples and aiding Christians being persecuted by Claudius in Rome.

“A relationship between the saint and emperor began to grow until Valentine attempted to convince Claudius of Christianity. Claudius became raged and sentenced Valentine to death, commanding him to renounce his faith or be beaten with clubs and beheaded.

“St. Valentine refused to renounce his faith and Christianity and was executed outside the Flaminian Gate on February 14, 269.” Or 270, or 273 or 280…

“Because so little is reliably known of him, in 1969 the Catholic Church removed his name from the General Roman Calendar, leaving his liturgical celebration to local calendars. The Roman Catholic Church continues to recognize him as a saint, listing him as such in the February 14 entry in the Roman Martyrology, and authorizing liturgical veneration of him on February 14 in any place where that day is not devoted to some other obligatory celebration…”

“Saint Valentine is the Patron Saint of affianced couples, bee keepers, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague, travelers, and young people. He is represented in pictures with birds and roses.” Fainting IS a part of romance, I reckon, and sometimes love is a plague.

This theory has been heavily disputed: “While some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial… others claim that the Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in an effort to ‘Christianize’ the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.”

The Census Bureau, in its Facts for Features, notes that “in A.D. 496, Pope Gelasius I declared Feb. 14 as Valentine’s Day… Esther Howland, a native of Massachusetts, is given credit for selling the first mass-produced Valentine’s Day cards in the 1840s.” So his holiday wasn’t just “invented by Hallmark, as I hear EVERY year.

Among people 15 and older who have been married, 19.1% of men and women “have been married twice as of 2015. About 5.4 have married three or more times. By comparison, 75.5 percent of people who have ever been married have made only one trip down the aisle.” 29.7 and 27.8 years are the “median age at first marriage in 2015 for men and women, respectively.”

I DO understand the sentiment that we should cancel St. Valentine’s Day, since there sometimes appears to be “precious little love in the world.” Perhaps that all the MORE reason to honor it. Those people who scrubbed the swastikas off the New York City subway train, that’s love. When folks rally at the local Jewish Community Center, twice, in 2017, because of bomb threats, that’s love. It would be easy to focus on the initial bad actions, but it’s our response to that action that is the real answer.

The new school year

Because Easter is so early, spring break is not until April 25 – April 29,

When the Daughter was in kindergarten, The Wife worked at that school. The holidays, snow days, etc. were in sync. It was great.

Every school year since, the trick is to see where The Daughter’s school schedule fails to coincide with The Wife’s teaching schedule at multiple schools, plus my work schedule. Then we figure out whether we can trade with other parents in child sitting (optimally), or figure out who’s taking the day off work.

The semester doesn’t begin until September 8, the day after Labor Day. Almost immediately, I see the Daughter has both September 14 (Rosh Hashana) AND September 23 (Yom Kippur) off. In previous years, one or the other of these Jewish holidays would land on a weekend. My wife’s schools, more rural, DON’T have either day off, and neither do I.

On October 12 (Columbus Day) and November 11 (Veterans Day), we all have the holidays, and the two of them have November 26-27 off for Thanksgiving. But November 25 is Parent-Teacher Conferences, which means no classes for the child, but one of us should probably ATTEND said conference and stay home the rest of the day.

They have December 24 – January 1 as holiday recess, and of course, I have Christmas and New Year’s off myself. We all have January 18, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

But January 25 is Superintendent’s Conference Day. Another one to suss out.

February 15 (Presidents’ Day), we all have it off, and the rest of the week is winter recess, for the teacher and the student in the house.

This is interesting, though. March 25 (Good Friday), which the Daughter has off, the Wife does not. But because Easter is so early, spring break is not until April 25 – April 29, which, thankfully, meshes for the two of them.

June 23, 24 – 1/2 Days for the elementary schools, but The Wife will figure out what to do.

That’s it, except for May 30 (Memorial Day), which we all have off. UNLESS the district uses none of the three days are provided for snow/emergency closings. “For each day used, the following dates (in order) would become days of instruction: May 31, May 26, May 27.” So I root for snow days for which my daughter’s district and my wife’s districts are in sync.

Presidents Day 2015

Q: Has the gun with which Oswald shot President Kennedy been returned to the family?

President Calvin Coolidge was designated Chief Leading Eagle of the Sioux tribe when he was adopted as the first white chief of the tribe at the celebration of the 51st anniversary of the settlement of Deadwood, South Dakota, August 9, 1927. This designation came as a result of Coolidge signing the Indian Citizen Act on June 2, 1924, which granted “full U.S. citizenship to America’s indigenous peoples.”

The bill happened in part as a result of World War I when “The Indian, though a man without a country…, threw himself into the struggle to help throttle the unthinkable tyranny of the Hun.”

I was unfamiliar with this picture until I saw it on the news around Christmas 2014, when it mentioned the risk of Chief Executives wearing things on their heads other than hats, and cited the headdress that the current President was wearing recently, pictured below.
Speaking of World War I, from Now I Know:

One of the more positive aspects of American presidential politics is the relatively orderly, entirely peaceful succession process. Every four years, on the Tuesday after the first Monday of November, voters across the nation go to the polls and cast their ballots. Those votes are translated into votes for… electors, and a few weeks later, those electors cast the votes which actually determine who is going to be inaugurated into the office of the President… Even though the campaign can be acrimonious, to date at least, no sitting president has ever attempted to disrupt this process.

But there was, almost, an exception. In 1916, incumbent President Woodrow Wilson faced a challenge from Republican Charles Evans Hughes…

Which US presidents have won the Nobel Peace Prize?

Secretaries of State who became President:

Thomas Jefferson (3) under George Washington (1)
James Madison (4) under Jefferson (3)
James Monroe (5) under Madison (4)
John Quincy Adams (6) under Monroe (5)
Martin Van Buren (8) under Andrew Jackson (7)
James Buchanan (15) under James K. Polk (11)

And none since unless Hillary gets elected President.

From The Weird, Embarrassing, Fascinating Things People Asked Librarians Before the Internet:
Q: Has the gun with which Oswald shot President Kennedy been returned to the family?
A: No. It’s at the National Archives and Records Administration building in College Park, Maryland.

Lyndon Johnson was a civil rights hero. But also a racist.
I’ve wondered why Bill Clinton, only the second President in American history to be impeached, got to be so popular by the end of his second term. I think Dan Savage of Savage Love hit upon it:

Here’s the takeaway from the Bill and Monica story: An out-of-control special prosecutor appointed to investigate the suicide of a White House aide wound up “exposing” a series of [sex acts] that President Bill Clinton got from a White House intern. Problematic power differential, yes, but consenting adults just the same. Politicians and pundits and editorial boards called on Clinton to resign after the affair was made public, because the American people, they insisted, had lost all respect for Clinton. He couldn’t possibly govern after the [detailed sex acts], and the denials (“I did not have sexual relations with that woman”). Clinton refused to resign and wound up getting impeached by an out-of-control GOP-controlled Congress…

But guess what? The American people weren’t [ticked] at Clinton. Clinton’s approval ratings shot up. People looked at what was being done to Clinton — a special prosecutor with subpoena powers and an unlimited budget asking Clinton under oath about his sex life—and thought, “…I would hate to have my privacy invaded like that.” People’s sympathies were with Clinton, not with the special prosecutor, not with the GOP-controlled/out-of-control Congress.

Presidential Libraries and Museums for every President from Herbert Hoover through George W. Bush

Handsome Franklin Pierce by Nik Durga

Behind the Presidents: at Mount Rushmore

The youngest Presidents: 26, 35, 42, 18, 44, 22, 14, 20, 11, 13
Lots of different “worst” lists:

Indian-Killer Andrew Jackson Deserves Top Spot on List of Worst U.S. Presidents

10 reasons why Ronald Reagan was the worst president of our lifetime

The Worst Presidents, which includes all the Presidents between #9 and #18, except #11 and #16; plus three 20th century picks


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