Public Square

Veterans Day

and the

American Battle Monuments Commission

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”
John 15:13

On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, of 1918, the Allies and Germany agreed to put down their weapons, bringing an end to the hostilities that would, sadly, become known as World War I.  The Treaty of Versailles, which officially ended the war, would not be signed until June 28, of the following year; but for the soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, nurses, wives, mothers, sweethearts, and children, the war ended with the Armistice.

Walking Toward the beaches at Normandy

The following November, in 1919, President Wilson proclaimed that Armistice Day:

“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.”

He called on the nation to mark this somber day, remembering the sacrifice of so many that the world might enjoy liberty and freedom.

On June 4, 1926, the Untied States Congress passed concurrent resolution, which officially recognized the end of the Great War.

“Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and

Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and

Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.” (Ibid)

November 11 became a legal holiday, Armistice Day, on May 13, 1938, by an act of Congress.  The day was dedicated to honoring World War I Veterans, until 1953 when Alfred King, of Emporia, Kansas decided that the day should honor all Veterans!  With the help of Representative Ed Rees, his local Congressman, a bill was introduced which expanded the November 11 holiday, replacing Armistice Day with Veterans Day.  It was signed on May 26, 1954, appropriately, by President Dwight David Eisenhower, who had served as the American Supreme Commander, in the European theater, during World War II.

Driving through the Town

One of the most memorable experiences of my life was visiting the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, in Normandy, France, which overlooks the English Channel.  This was a place I had long wanted to see, and I feel so pleased that I was able to walk through this field of honor, and stroll along the beach.

The majority of the 9,387 dead, who are buried there, were killed during the D-Day Invasion, the major offensive which opened up the Western Front, in World War II, and was the beginning of the end of the war.  It was launched on June 6, 1944, under the command of General Eisenhower.  There is also a memorial to the 1,557 missing men of the invasion.

A Map of the Landing

Driving into the area, you pass many winding roads, lined with buildings which appear to be centuries old.  Once you arrive, a short stroll, from the parking lot, takes you to the museum which depicts the battle, and offers you a pristine view of the area covered on D-Day.  There is a path which leads you to the memorials and the countless rows of graves.  You can then follow a path down the steep cliff, which takes you to the beaches.  On the day we were there, as we reached the sand, a group of military planes flew over head, in formation, with extreme speed and noise – as if it had been scripted.

Looking Down to the Beach

The Picture does not do the Incline Justice

Looking up, from the Beach

National Cemeteries are placed throughout the country, and of course the world.  These are places were fallen American men and women are interred with honor and dignity, never to be forgotten.  While a solemn experience, I urge you to consider such a visit.  Take the time to both honor and remember the many millions of fallen service people who have given so much that we might enjoy freedom and democracy.

The View from the Memorial

Below is a link to the cemetery and memorial.  There are several wonderful videos featured there, which highlight the experience, as well as interactive offerings.

Kate inside the Memorial

Unlike so many other holidays, Veterans Day, or Armistice Day, or Remembrance Day, is not just marked by just one nation, rather this is a day observed by people in various countries, around the world, as they stop to remember the ultimate sacrifice that one person can make for another.

I hope you will stop this Veterans Day to remember.  That is all for now.

Walking Along Normandy Beach

Kate, as she approaches the sculpture “Spirit of American Youth”
 Inside the Chapel


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