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Remembering the past, honoring our veterans


November 11, 2011

Nov. 11 marks a very important day in the United States. It is Veterans Day, formerly referred to as “Armistice Day” or “Remembrance Day.” This is a special day to honor every American who has served or is currently serving for our country, risking their lives every day just so we can live in freedom. However, it seems as if many of us do not realize just how important this day is.

This day of remembrance started on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, or Nov. 11, 1918. This officially marked the end of World War I. The day was not officially recognized however, until June 4, 1926. On that day, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution requesting that President Calvin Coolidge issue another proclamation to observe Nov. 11 as a day to honor everyone who died in World War I. Finally, on May 13, 1938, an act was passed making Nov. 11 a day that did just that — honor all the brave men and women who fought for our freedom in that deadly World War.

It was in 1953 that a Kansas man named Alvin King, an owner of a shoe repair shop, had an idea to not just honor people that died during World War I, but everyone who has served
for the United States. King gained an abundance of support from merchants in this small town of Emporia to turn “Armistice Day” into “All Veterans Day.” Emporia pushed a bill through Congress to change the meaning of this day. It was on May 26, 1954 that President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed this new bill into law.

How do you commemorate Veterans Day? I know that the nearly 24.9 million veterans in the United States enjoy going out to eat and receiving the special “Veterans Day discount.” That’s what my Grandpa Bob enjoys doing every year on Nov. 11. My grandfather, Robert C. Lenz, fought with the Navy during World War II. He is still living and has many stories to tell. I have always admired Grandpa Bob for his service to our country. He always tells one story that stands out in my mind. It was about how he had gotten shot in the knee on a Navy ship, and to this day, the metal bullet is still there. It always goes off in the airport metal detector, and every time he has to tell the story about how it is there because of the war. He has so many fascinating stories. If you have a parent or grandparent who served, you should ask them to tell you their war stories. It will help you appreciate them so much more.

On Veterans Day, all federal offices are closed for the day and no mail is delivered. A lot of people have a day off from school or work. Some schools do have to go to school or work on Veterans Day. Although, some of these schools that do not give a day off, like my high school, host a special assembly to honor the veterans. However you may commemorate the day, do not use it as just another day off. Take some time and remember who is fighting for your freedom.

Cristin Dempsey is an English major and music minor from Eagan, Minn. She enjoys writing, playing the flute and swimming. After college she would like to pursue a career as an editor.