This Monday marks the 100th anniversary of the holiday we now know as Veterans Day.
It has changed names over the years, just as the war that led to its creation did. World War I was originally called the Great War, Europe’s most widespread conflict since the Napoleonic Wars. Veterans who returned home brought with them nightmares of trench warfare and memories of escapes at the 11th hour. As if in a nod to their close calls, the ceasefire that would be agreed upon in 1918 went into effect “on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.”
Those memories were still vivid a century ago, when Congress recognized the anniversary of the war’s end as Armistice Day on Nov. 11, 1919.
Armistice Day became an annual observance in 1926 and then was established as a national holiday in 1938, just as the threat of world war again loomed. After World War II, the holiday was renamed Veterans Day to encompass veterans of any conflicts the U.S. had taken part in.
Unlike Memorial Day, this month’s observance honors all American military veterans, especially those who remain with us after having shown their willingness to sacrifice everything for this country.
Hundreds of veterans have returned home to Cooke County or established a new life here after deployment and honorable discharge. According to National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics, nearly 550 of those living here suffered physical harm while in the service, like Vincent “Vinny” Reynolds, who we profiled last week.
These men and women who bear the scars of defending freedom, and all who have served honorably in the armed forces, deserve our gratitude and our support.
One way you can show your appreciation is by honoring veterans at Gainesville’s annual Veterans Day Commemoration, set for 5:45 p.m. this Monday, Nov. 11, at the Gainesville Civic Center. The event’s proceedings will include the VFW color guard, remarks from a variety of speakers and performances of patriotic music. The commemoration is free and open to all.
It’ll be a chance to hear Sgt. Mag. Dennis I. Kretzschmar, a Gainesville native, talk about his service. Kretzschmar entered the U.S. Army in 1977 and has served in Korea and Afghanistan, receiving several awards including the Bronze Star Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the National Defense Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, as we reported earlier this week.
We encourage you to consider attending, and to teach the young ones within your circle about the value of service members’ courage and commitment. Though this holiday’s name has changed over the century, the values it represents remain constant.