By Tonya Brantley
Take a moment and think about freedom. We know what freedom means and we all understand how important it is in our lives. However, there are times we forget how hard our veterans had to fight for the very freedom that Americans experience today.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008 is the 90th anniversary of Veterans Day, an American holiday honoring military veterans. In other parts of the world, it is also celebrated as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day. The date was chosen to commemorate World War I, which ended after four years of war at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice. The "war to end all wars" was finally over.
In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"
In 1926, Congress passed a resolution for an annual observance, and beginning in 1938, November 11 became a national holiday. In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation to change the name to Veterans Day to make this day an occasion to honor those who have served America in all wars, not just those that served in World War I.
The word veteran describes any former member of the armed forces or a person who had served in the military. Veterans Day is largely intended to thank living veterans who have served honorably in the military and for the dedicated and loyal service they gave to their country. It is a day to let our veterans know how deeply we appreciate the sacrifices they have made to keep our country free.