To some people, the Veterans Day holiday is simply a day in which we get to skip work or school. We get a three day weekend, or in the case of this year, a day off in the middle of the week.
But don’t be fooled; this shortened workweek doesn’t happen for just any reason—there have been countless battles fought and blood shed that grant us this day off. It is important to know the longstanding history of Veterans Day, so that we can all understand why we are observing this notable holiday.
Veterans Day is a special holiday to honor those who are serving or who have served in the armed forces, and those who have held an occupation or office. It is a day to acknowledge and respect their contribution to our country with annual traditions and ceremonies.
Before 1953, this holiday was known as “Armistice Day.” After four years of fighting, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month, an armistice was signed in 1918, ending World War I. People all over the nation celebrated the end of what they thought was the “war to end all wars.”
The following year in the United States, November 11 was set aside as Armistice Day in order to pay tribute to the men and women and the sacrifices they made during World War I fighting for peace. Parades and speeches took place all over the country.
Twenty years later, on May 13, 1938, Armistice Day was voted a federal holiday. Even after World War II, the holiday continued to be observed on November 11th.
In 1953, a shoe store owner in Emporia, Kansas named Al King thought it would be a good idea to instead refer to Armistice Day as “Veterans Day,” in order to celebrate all veterans, not just those who served in World War I. A year later, President Eisenhower called upon “all of our citizens to observe November 11th as ‘Veterans Day’ and that the entire citizenry [would] join hands to insure proper and widespread observance of this day.”
Veterans Day is a day to honor our veterans for their service and sacrifice, and to of course remember those who we’ve tragically lost in the different wars. At 11:00 AM, many Americans observe a moment of silence, commemorating those who fought for peace
This year, there are a number of ways to celebrate Veterans Day in San Diego:
• The 2009 San Diego County Veterans Day Parade will be held this Wednesday, starting at 11:00 AM from Cedar Street and Pacific Highway in Downtown San Diego. This years’ theme is “Welcome Home Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) Veterans.” All OEF/OIF Veterans will be Honorary Grand Marshals in this years’ parade. For parade and parking information and instructions, click here.
• Cal-Deigo Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) will be hosting an event at the stern of the USS Midway Museum next to Harbor Drive, featuring live music and cars. This will be from 12-3 PM.
• The Open House at The Veterans Museum and Memorial Center, located at 2115 Park Blvd., will be held at 2 PM.
• The Veterans Day Ceremony and the unveiling of the F4U Corsair will take place onboard the USS Midway Museum at 3 PM. $1 of each ticket sold will be donated to the Veterans Village of San Diego.
• There will also be plenty of special offers for local veterans and active personnel all over the county, such as complimentary admission to Old Town Trolley Tours, free Sea World and Zoo tickets, special deals at restaurants, and more!
Happy Veterans Day San Diego!