President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed “Armistice Day” for November 11, 1919 and described it eloquently:
“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.”
Thirty-four years and another World War later a cobbler from Emporia, Kansas named Alvin King determined that Armistice Day ought to celebrate not only the WWI veterans but every veteran who has served and died for this great country. He formed a campaign to turn Armistice Day into All Veterans Day. With the help of U.S. Representative Ed Rees, a bill to change the purpose and name of the holiday was pushed through Congress. President Eisenhower signed it into law on May 26, 1954, and Congress amended the act on June 1, replacing “Armistice” with “Veterans.”
This Friday will mark the ninety-second year of this great national holiday. If any holiday deserved more than a single day of celebration, Veterans Day is certainly one of them. Why not take this entire week—whether at work or at home—to remember those brave men and women who sacrificed for the freedoms we still enjoy. Instead of worrying about what you will do on your day off, why not spend the week emulating the very qualities by which our veterans have led the way since our country’s beginnings. Lead with gratitude for your inheritance of freedom. Lead with personal responsibility for your own well-being, not asking others or your country to do for you what you can do yourself. Lead with ongoing sacrifice for the ongoing prosperity of your country and specifically for the highest good of those to your right and left. Let this Veterans Day mark the year Americans began actively remembering the qualities that made America great.