Monday, November 12, 2012

Veterans Day

It's that time again! The time when I tell you weird facts and the history of a holiday! I know, I know. You are TOTALLY pumped.
That is your pumped face, right?
Of course it is!
What do most Americans know about Veterans Day? Most know it is to commemorate those who have served in the military, there are parades, and some people hand out those little red paper flowers, but is that it? Open your books people, it is knowledge time!
Because knowledge is a sexy beast. Rawr.
So was Veterans Day always around? There have been wars since the dawn of humanity, so surely this holiday began a really long time ago...
I am Spartacus! Or is really hard to tell. We all dress kind of alike...
Surprisingly, it is a relatively new holiday. Veterans Day began in 1919 as Armistice Day. Why Armistice Day? I don't know how much you know about 1919, but the year before there was a little spat going on called World War I.
Fighter planes in those days were kept aloft with hope
and copious amounts of arm flapping.
But on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, a temporary cessation of hostilities (aka an armistice) was declared between the Allied nations and Germany. 
And they used the downtime to build bitchin' slingshots.
Although the official peace treaty (Treaty of Versailles) wasn't signed until June 28, 1919, the general shooting and stabbing of other dudes stopped with the Armistice. People were pretty pumped about not getting shot at anymore, so the next year they decided to celebrate the anniversary of totally not blowing up the world.
I don't know about you Larry, but now that the war is over,
I am never digging a fucking hole ever again.
Although Armistice Day was endorsed by President Woodrow Wilson and celebrated every year from 1919 on, it wasn't approved as a national holiday until May of 1938, under Franklin Delano Roosevelt's administration.
FDR, you just fixed the Great Depression! What are you gonna do next?!
It is speculated that they finally signed it into law because another war was on the horizon. Adolf Hitler had by that time declared himself Fuhrer of Germany, annexed Austria, and was ready to march on Czechoslovakia and possibly Poland. They wanted to acknowledge and make heroes out of the soldiers of the last "Great War" to promote a surge of patriotism should the need to go to war arise.
Hey kids! Captain America says get out there and punch some Nazis!
But at this point, Armistice Day was still for commemorating only WWI veterans. By 1945, another world war had been fought and won, and veteran Raymond Weeks thought maybe these dudes deserved to be celebrated too.
We need to commemorate all veterans. Also, I need someone
to draw me punching Hitler right in the balls.
Instead of demanding their own holiday, Weeks proposed making Armistice Day for veterans of all wars and therefore change the name to "Veterans Day." He led a delegation that petitioned then-General Dwight Eisenhower to act on their behalf to establish a National Veterans Day. Eisenhower loved the idea. After struggling with red tape for almost ten years, the Veterans Day bill was approved by Congress and signed into law by none other than now-President Dwight Eisenhower in 1954.
"Want a law passed? Become president.
Checkmate, bitches." - Eisenhower
In researching for this post, I also came across some pretty sweet trivia:

  • Veterans Day does not include an apostrophe because it is not a day that belongs to veterans, it is a day for honoring them.
  • Many Americans believe Veterans Day is just another Memorial Day, a day to honor those who died in battle. While that is the purpose of Memorial Day, Veterans Day is meant to thank the living for their dedication, loyal service, and sacrifice.
  • Poppies are considered the flowers for consolation and eternal sleep and is often used to commemorate the fallen. Their distinction as the "flower of the the fallen" began with a poem written by Canadian John McCrea in WWI. Another distinction of poppies, is that they flourish on the loose soil of fresh graves, unlike most other flowers. 
  • Although poppies are traditionally given out in the US on Memorial Day, most other countries use them as a symbol for Veterans Day as well.

I'll leave you with this quote from Eisenhower:

"It is well for us to pause, to acknowledge our debt to those who paid so large a share of freedom's price. As we stand here in grateful remembrance of the veterans' contributions we renew our conviction of individual responsibility to live in ways that support the eternal truths upon which our Nation is founded, and from which flows all its strength and all its greatness."


squashculls said...

Didn't know about the poppies, that is very interesting.

Melissa Bloechl said...

The Flanders Field poem is actually a chorus song as well.

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