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Opinion

Veterans Day not only important for veterans

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November 8, 2012

On Veterans Day we honor those who fought for our country all throughout history. While most people know that Veterans Day is celebrated on Nov. 11, the day World War I ended, there are many unknown facts and symbols surrounding the special day.

Originally called Armistice Day, this day is annually recognized by many people across the country. Many schools hold assemblies or ceremonies and veterans themselves can enjoy several discounts for putting their life on the line for American freedom.

It is a day which provides the opportunity to appreciate all that our veterans have fought for, which are things many often take for granted.

The poppy is a symbol that represents Veterans Day because it covers battlefields in Europe. These battlefields are where soldiers lost their lives in WWI from countries such as Canada, Germany, France, Great Britain, United States, Italy and Japan.

WWI is one of the bloodiest wars in American history, so the poppies represent thousands upon thousands of fallen soldiers.

Some people also believe the red color in the flowers represents the bloodshed on the battlefield.

Soldiers that survived the war would come home with several stories about the red poppies emerging on the barren landscape of the battlefield. The poppies were thought to represent the resting place of the fallen soldiers’ souls. They were thought to grow on the battlefields as a way to honor the fallen.

Along with poppies, the stars and stripes of the American flag are commonly thought of as a common symbol for Veterans Day.

A common ritual during Veterans Day ceremonies is hoisting the American flag. Most assemblies and ceremonies usually last about an hour. It is common to have musical selections ready for the ceremony to commemorate the special event.

The soldiers and veterans are colored with their respective banners and flags, according to their military branch. This helps bring attention to the importance of this day and the importance of the people it honors, as many people think of it as an inspiring event.

Schools often showcase their creativity with poster contests and school wide Veterans Day magazines. The ceremony is closed when the flag colors are retired.

Another common tradition for veterans and soldiers is the 21 gun salute. This ritual is commonly seen at burial services for soldiers, veterans and U.S. presidents.

A certain number of shots from a cannon or firearm are shot among a line of 21 members of the military. The number of shots is dependent on the importance or rank of the person it honors.

This custom comes from a naval tradition in which a warship would fire its cannons harmlessly out to sea.

The reason for this was to spend all of their ammunition to show that it was disarmed and that they no longer had hostile intent.

Seven guns was a standard numbers of guns on a vessel, so Britain recognized seven guns as a national salute. The forts ashore would fire three shots to each one shot afloat with seven guns, which is where the 21 guns come from.

Veterans Day is perhaps the most honorable patriotic holiday. It is a good reminder for everyone to remember the sacrifices that soldiers make daily and have made throughout history.

It is good to take some time out of one’s day and think of all the sacrifices soldiers make just so Americans can be free. They are true heroes.

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.