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Thank You For Your Service Posted 11.07.2014

This Tuesday kids are out of school.  It is sort of a taste of the holidays to come – Thanksgiving and Christmas – and no school.  But besides being able to sleep in, what is Veteran’s Day all about?  Since the story is probably not taught that much these days, I thought I'd remind us all right here, right now.

 

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the First World War, known back then as “the Great War.”

 

Though the Treaty of Versailles (which officially ended the war) was signed on June 28, 1919, November 11 remained in the public imagination as the date that marked the end of the Great War. In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. The day’s observation included parades and public gatherings, as well as a brief pause in business activities at 11 a.m. On November 11, 1921, an unidentified American soldier killed in the war was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. On the same day, unidentified soldiers were laid to rest at Westminster Abbey in London and at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

 

When the American effort during World War II saw the greatest mobilization of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force in the nation’s history (more than 16 million people) and then when some 5.7 million more served in the Korean War – something had to change to honor our veterans. 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.” President Eisenhower signed the legislation in 1954. From then on, November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

 

In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill, 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.

 

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.  However, confusion reigned, as many states continued to observe the holiday in November.  In 1975, after it became evident that the actual date of Veterans Day carried historical and patriotic significance to many Americans, President Ford signed a new law returning the observation of Veterans Day to November 11, beginning in 1978.

 

So on Tuesday at 11 am, perhaps you can remind your children that the Great War ended that day.  And that there is a lesson.  The victory of war cannot change the heart of man.  So our history continues to be littered with war (of even greater scope).  We wait for that change of heart, won at the Cross, to be accomplished at the return of the Savior.  So we remember – with hope, that one day all war will end.  Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.


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