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History of Veterans Day
We have been celebrating Veterans Day for 64 years since President Dwight D. Eisenhower changed the name from Armistice Day. Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day. Veterans Day is meant to celebrate the service of all veterans who served in the military, while Memorial Day is to remember those who died while serving. Veterans Day belongs to all veterans.
The inspiration for celebrating Veterans Day began in 1945 by a World War II veteran named Raymond Weeks, from Birmingham, Alabama. Weeks led the first national celebration in 1947 in Alabama, then annually, until death in 1985. Rep. Ed Rees from Emporia, Kansas, drafted the bill in Congress that became law on May 26, 1954. Nearly nine years from when Weeks began celebrating the then called “Armistice Day” for all veterans, the bill was amended on June 1, 1954, and renamed to Veterans Day. During 1954 the National Veterans Award was also created.
Congressman Rees of Kansas received the first National Veterans Award in Birmingham, Alabama, for his support offering legislation to make Veterans Day a Federal Holiday. Raymond Weeks was named the “Father of Veterans Day,” by President Ronald Reagan in 1982.
Veterans Day was initially intended to be on November 11th of each year. However, due to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act starting in 1971, it was moved to the fourth Monday of October. Beginning in 1978 it was pushed back to its original celebration day of November 11th. The birthday of the U.S. Marine Corp, November 10, 1775, is commonly observed, along with Veterans Day, and is considered a 96 hour liberty period. Veterans Day is a Federal Holiday, and all non-essential government offices are not open for business. Federal workers are paid for the holiday, and many employers give their employees the day off.
Why We Celebrate
Currently, there are over 22 million veterans in America today. There are over 16 million living veterans that served during at least one war. Of that 16 million, 2 million are women. The number of veteran women is equal to the total of veterans that served during the Korean War. Of the 16 million Americans that did serve in World War II, about 558,000 of those veterans are still alive. Over 7 million Americans served during the Vietnam War. Around 3 million veterans have served since September 11, 2001, in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of the 22 million total, an estimated 5.2 million veterans have served during peacetime. We celebrate every veteran who has served the United States of America’s Armed Forces.
From the American Revolutionary War, up to the continuing war in the middle-east, veterans have fought for the United States of America. A list of wars involving the United States gives an account of just how veterans have safeguarded America’s independence. The United States has only formally declared war five times in its history. Four of the five times were due to hostilities towards our country or our allies. There have been several military engagements that were authorized by Congress over the years; those are considered undeclared wars. Many other military actions have been approved through the United Nations Security Council resolutions and funded by the U.S. Congress. The most extended battle is currently being fought between the United States and the Taliban in Afghanistan which began in 2001.
Veterans Keep America Great
In some form, since 1776 America has been at war nearly (90%) of the time. During times of trouble, Americans have consistently answered the call to defend our country. Civilians have become veterans for many reasons over the years. Since 1973, our military has consisted of all volunteers. Roughly (1%) of the United States population serves in the military during any given period. Out of that (1%), only (25%) make the military their career. The Pew Research Center shows that veterans who served active duty in the post 9/11 era are proud of their service at (96%), and most, (74%) say their military experience has helped them get ahead in life. Among the post 9/11 veterans, patriotism was their reason for joining the military. Since the draft ended in 1973, the average age of enlisted personnel and officers have increased substantially.
The Pew Research Center found that ”politically, post 9/11 veterans are more likely than adults overall to identify with the Republican Party —(36%) are Republicans, compared with (23%) of the general public. Equal shares of these veterans and the public at (35%) call themselves independents, while (21%) of post 9/11 veterans and (34%) of the people describe themselves as Democrats. Today’s active-duty force is diverse, more than one-third of the military personnel are minorities that are better educated. There are fewer high school dropouts and more college graduates in our armed forces today than in the past. Active-duty married personnel has increased substantially over the last decades. Veterans that served during a time of war are more supportive of U.S. military efforts than the general public because they’ve been there and recognized the circumstances.
Veterans and their families have made many sacrifices over the last 242 years of America’s independence. Since September 11, 2001, the public has favorably expressed sentiment towards military personnel. However, half of the population believe that the war in the middle-east isn’t worth the cost. Half of the public think that the wars have made no difference in their own lives. Veterans that have served overseas and been in combat have a different belief. The Pew Research Center found, “some 84% of post 9/11 veterans say the public does not understand the problems faced by those in the military or their families.” Nobody can understand what it is like being a combat veteran is until he or she have had his or her boots on the ground. Seventy percent of veterans consider sacrifices just part of being in the military. God bless the United States of America and all its veterans.