November 10, 2021 |
Tomorrow is Veterans Day. The early history of the observance to Americans who have served our country in the military was spotty. It began in November 1919 to mark the end of World I a year earlier when hostilities ended by decree on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
It was not observed as a full holiday at first. The original concept called for parades, speeches and public get-togethers with a brief suspension of business around 11 a.m.
Armistice Day was observed more or less informally until 1938, when Congress made November 11th a legal national holiday. In 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower issued the Veterans Day Proclamation. Congress amended the Act of 1938, replacing the word “Armistice” with “Veterans.”
Given the patriotic pride that followed World War II, Veterans Day traditions blossomed in earnest. Things ran glitch-free until 1968, during an early version of today’s culture wars. Congress passed the Uniform Holiday Bill that year, moving national holidays to Mondays to guarantee three-day weekends. Veterans Day was lumped in with Washington’s birthday, Columbus Day and Memorial Day.
The first year Veterans Day was celebrated on a day other than November 11th was 1971. It did not go well. The times were turbulent. The Viet Nam War was raging. More than 35,000 American soldiers had died there in the three years prior to the changing the date Veterans Day was observed.
Moving a date of profound historic and patriotic significance produced confusion and bitterness. In 1978, Veterans Day was moved back to 11th day of the 11th month to preserve the original intention: A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.
That brings us to tomorrow.
In Saratoga, the Platte Valley Arts Council will unveil a mural during a ceremony at Veterans Park on Bridge Street. Rawlins artist Diane Johanson created the patriot work. During last week’s Saratoga Town Council meeting, Mayor Creed James read a letter from the Platte Valley Arts Council President Allison Snedon announcing the public unveiling.
The American Legion owns the park and led the effort to install art piece. The public is invited to the unveiling, which will happen around 3:30. During the reception after, the arts council will announce the winner of the Haybale Sculpture Contest held last month and award the traveling trophy.
Bigfoot 99 will have a round-up of traditional Veterans Day ceremonies on Thursday.