The following letter was received from the office of Del. J.B. Jennings:
It is that time of the year. American families are preparing to celebrate their family traditions and homecomings on Thanksgiving as well as begin their early holiday shopping. Yet, amid the enjoyment of these festive times and memorable moments with our family and friends, we must never allow ourselves to forget.
For each holiday we celebrate, for every anniversary we remember, for every birthday we share, for each new day we are given, we must never forget those men and women who have provided us the right to celebrate. They have sacrificed their time, their freedoms, and their lives, to ensure our fundamental foundations of rights, principles, and freedoms – our American way of life.
As our lives become more complex and “time” turns into a valued commodity, we tend to neglect these foundations and the brave individuals who protect and preserve them. These foundations are at the nucleus of our country, they are the privileges that we hold as Americans and are the dreams of those who wish for such privileges.
It is for these reasons that we must remember and honor our military veterans, past and present, on Wednesday, November 11th – Veterans Day.
The history of Veterans Day began on November, 12, 1919, when United States President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed it as “Armistice Day.” Seven years later, the United States Congress passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926 requesting the President issue another proclamation to observe November 11th with appropriate ceremonies.
The approval of 52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a on May 13, 1938, made November 11th in each year a legal holiday, the Act described the holiday as, “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day’.”
The evolvement of Veterans Day occurred in 1953, when a Kansas shoe store owner named Al King had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans, not just those who served in World War I.
During World War II, King had been actively involved with the American War Dads. He began a campaign to turn Armistice Day into “All” Veterans Day. King’s passionate cause influenced the support of the local Chamber of Commerce after it was determined that ninety percent (90%) of local merchants as well as the Board of Education supported closing their doors on November 11, 1953, to honor veterans. The resounding support was brought to the notice to U.S. Rep. Edward Rees, and a bill for the holiday was passed in Congress. Less than a year later, President Dwight Eisenhower signed it into law on May 26, 1954.
On November 8, 1954, Congress amended this act replacing “Armistice” with “Veterans”, and it has been known as Veterans Day ever since.
Throughout my life honoring our veterans and our military has never been taken for granted or taken lightly. However, never was it more valued and respected until I took my oath to serve and protect this Nation as an Air National Guardsman, on July 22, 2008. As I recited each word, with my right hand held firm and proud close to my shoulder, I could not help to feel the honor of taking the same oath as those who took it throughout our American history.
Now at 35, and serving my first full year of military service, family, friends, and colleagues constantly ask the same question, “Why did you decide to enlist in the military?” In answering their question, I recall a vivid moment during my basic training at Lackland Air Force Base.
On a routine training run, my flight was crossing a bridge that overlooked the city of San Antonio, Texas. As my flight reached the midway portion of the bridge, our drill sergeant stopped the flight and ordered all of us to face the San Antonio skyline. As we turned to our left to view the beautiful sun setting behind San Antonio, he asked everyone what we saw. Some of us answered, “San Antonio, Texas, Sergeant!” Following our response, he looked at all of us and said, “You are looking at ‘freedom’.” Following his remark, he ordered us to turn to our right. We turned and now faced Lackland Air Force Base. In that moment, he pointed to the Base and said, “This is how ‘freedom’ is protected.”
I enlisted to serve our country to protect those freedoms, those liberties, and those foundations instituted by our Founding Fathers and have been preserved and defended by the military servicemen and women who have served before me.
So long as we hold these institutions sacred within our daily lives, we shall forever give our eternal gratitude to our military veterans.
To all of our military veterans and current servicemen and women, I offer my gratitude and undying appreciation. I proudly stand along side these individuals to ensure that our American way of life will never be compromised nor threatened.
In closing, I leave with the sentiment proffered by President Kennedy:
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
Happy Veterans Day and God Bless!
Member, House of Delegates
7th Legislative District