The Mountain Times

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Celebrate Veterans Day Nov. 11

Veterans Day is an annual holiday when veterans of the armed forces are honored and celebrated in the United States. Many people confuse Veterans Day with Memorial Day. While both days honor members of the armed forces, there's a distinction between the two holidays. Memorial Day, which is celebrated in May, is a day designated for remembering servicemen and servicewomen who died while serving. Veterans Day, which is observed in November, honors all military veterans.

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President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed a national holiday called Armistice Day to take place on Nov. 11, 1919 and annually thereafter to commemorate the signing of the armistice treaty that ended World War I. The holiday served to honor those who served and lost their lives in the war. However, it wasn't until 34 years later when a Kansas shoe store owner proposed the holiday be expanded to remember all veterans, not just those of World War I.

The shoe store owner, Alfred King from Emporia, Kan., began a campaign to turn Armistice Day into "All" Veterans Day. Emporia Chamber of Commerce got involved and participated in the cause, urging all business owners to shut down on Nov. 11 to honor veterans.

U.S. Representative Ed Rees, also of Emporia, helped push a bill through Congress, which President Dwight Eisenhower later signed into law on May 26, 1954. Roughly one week later "Armistice" was changed to "Veterans" and the holiday has honored all veterans since. 

The role of the brave men and women who serve in the military is an important one, and it's one that warrants appreciation and celebration. The following are a few easy ways to celebrate veterans and their significant contribution to our country this Veterans Day.
•    Offer your thanks. While Veterans know they don't serve in vain, serving in the military can feel like a thankless job, as those who have not served might not be aware of the risks men and women in the military take and the sacrifices they must make to protect our country and help the less fortunate across the globe. A simple "thank you" to a current service member or military veteran can go a long way.
•    Help families of active military. Many service members are currently stationed and serving overseas, and their families back home may need or just appreciate a helping hand. Invite family members of active military over for dinner, offer to do chores like cutting the grass or shoveling the driveway when it snows or help around the house if something needs fixing. Even if families of active members serving overseas appear to be getting along great, offer your friendship and let them know you're there to help should anything arise.
•    Visit hospitalized veterans. Unfortunately, many veterans are hospitalized after suffering an injury during a tour of duty. These veterans sacrificed their physical well-being to protect our way of life, and many spend extended periods of time in the hospital. Visiting a hospital to get to know a veteran and spend some time with him or her, sharing a few laughs and thanking them for their service is a great way to celebrate the holiday and lift a veteran's spirits at the same time. Recruit friends and family members to visit hospitalized veterans as well.
•    Facilitate a veteran's night out on the town. Like many people, veterans appreciate an escape from the daily grind. Men and women who want to show their appreciation to veterans can treat a veteran to a night out on the town. Have extra tickets to a ballgame or play? Donate them to a local VFW. Or if you see a veteran out on the town, offer to pay for his meal.
•    Thank businesses who support veterans. Many businesses show their gratitude to veterans by offering them free services on Veterans Day. When a local business shows its appreciation to veterans, patronize that business and let them know you appreciate their efforts to help veterans.