On the 11th day of the 11th month we honor our veterans.

This federal holiday began as Armistice Day to mark the end of World War I, with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919.

Said President Woodrow Wilson in his proclamation in November 1919:

“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. …”

This federal holiday officially became what we now know as Veterans Day in 1954, by proclamation of one of the most famous American veterans, President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Yet, in the era of a volunteer military, fewer and fewer Americans know firsthand the depth of commitment and sacrifice it takes to serve.

So we owe it to our veterans to express our gratitude today because they so richly deserve it, not because the calendar says so.

From its roots in 1919, this day was intended as a time for parades and public gatherings.

That’s not so easy to do in 2020.

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