OUR OPINION: Veterans deserve our thanks

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Millions of people stopped Tuesday to pay their respects to those men and women who dedicated either a portion of or their entire lives to defending our country. Some are still alive today to tell of their service, while others were not as fortunate.

While Tuesday was the official observance of Veterans Day across our country, we feel that it should not be the only day that we pause to reflect on these brave men and women’s sacrifices. If not for the veterans who risk their lives to ensure that we have the freedoms we enjoy, then who knows the state our country would be in today?

The history of Veterans Day is rooted in the days of World War I – known at the time as “The Great War.” When the war officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles June 28, 1919, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, Nov. 11, 1918, is generally recognized by historians as the end of “the war to end all wars.” Unfortunately, that name would not hold true.

In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. The original concept for the celebration was for a day of parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business to recognize the historical event.

In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed HR7786, which changed Armistice Day’s name to Veterans Day, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of military forces in our nation’s history. However, it would not be until 1971 that the first Veterans Day federal holiday would be observed.

We offer our thanks to those who have put their lives on the line to defend their lives and rights as well as those of their families, friends and complete strangers. These selfless men and women deserve our respect for their bravery, even if we do not agree with military decisions made by our government.

We ask that today, or any day, if you come across anyone who has donned the uniform of any of our military branches, shake their hands and thank them for their service. While they may not have ever seen a theater of war, they may some day. And while they may say that they do not want thanks for the service they provide, it will still brighten their day to know that there are people who are grateful for the sacrifices they make.