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Remembering the fallen on Veterans Day

November 11, 2009 |  4:00 am


Today is Veterans Day, when we remember those service men and women who fought for the United States in every war the nation has waged. It was originally called Armistice Day and commemorated the end of World War I on Nov. 11, 1918. A year later, President Woodrow Wilson made the proclamation:

"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.…"

In 1938 it became a legal holiday, and in 1954 it became Veterans Day, to honor veterans of World War II and all other wars. Often marked with patriotic parades, somber remembrances and suspension of regular business, it was observed as a three-day holiday weekend for a time in the 1970s, until Congress moved the official holiday back to Nov. 11 starting in 1978.

It remains a holiday for American schoolchildren, teachers and government workers. And all national parks and national forests will be waiving admission fees today. But many office workers will be in their cubicles. I'll have on display my red paper poppy from the British Legion. As a story from the Voice of America notes:  

The symbol comes from a World War I poem by a Canadian military physician, lamenting the death of a friend, citing that on the battlefields where the dead lay, poppies still grew.

Thirty-six-year-old Michael Newcomb sports a poppy on his lapel like millions of other Britons.

"It is an important tradition. A lot of people died. It is important to remember them, and I think it is a very nice tradition," he said.

For many, Veterans Day is especially poignant this year in the wake of last week's tragedy at Ft. Hood. President Obama spoke at a memorial service there Tuesday, and more remembrances are planned today.  

We'd like to hear about your memories of your loved ones on this Veterans Day.

-- Claire Noland

Photo: A cloth poppy is left on a grave after a service at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery in Ramle in central Israel. The cemetery dates from World War I and is the last resting place for deceased of both world wars, and the period of the British mandate of Palestine. Credit: David Silverman / Getty Images