By A. Ray Lee
Veterans Day is more than just a legal holiday to give a day off from work with pay as some may view it. Its history has implications for all who live in freedom. Our freedom has been bought with the price of sacrifice paid by brave individuals and has been maintained by many who have been willing to die if necessary so that we might live free from the tyranny of those who would enslave us. Today they continue to stand as sentinels between us and danger.
On November 11 a grateful nation will once again, in celebratory events, recognize all who have and are now serving honorably in the armed forces of the United States. It is fitting that we do so. Perhaps a little knowledge of history will help us better understand the significance of the holiday.
The idea of such a legal holiday began in 1919 shortly after the conclusion of WWI when many felt there should be a day of remembrance for those who had sacrificed their lives on behalf of freedom. Their efforts were widely accepted and in 1938 an act of congress set November 11 as a legal holiday and stated it was to be “a day dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as Armistice Day in memory of those who had died in the War.”
At the end of WWII Alabama native Raymond Weeks of Birmingham had the idea of expanding Armistice Day to include all veterans, not just those who had died in WWI. Through his efforts, in 1954 “Armistice” was changed to “Veterans” and it became known as Veterans Day. Thereafter Weeks was widely known as the “father of Veterans Day” and was a prominent figure in national celebrations until his death in 1989.
This week we will remember the past as we pause for a day to honor and give thanks to those for those who have and are now standing watch over a nation that deeply values its freedom.
Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) The apostle wrote: “Render to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; customs to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor (italics are mine).”
This week we salute our service personnel. You certainly deserve our honor. Thank you.