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On 11 November 1921, an unknown American soldier from World War I was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, in recognition of WWI veterans and in conjunction with the cessation of hostilities at 11 a.m. on 11 November 1918 – the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. This was President Warren Harding’s request: “All … citizens … indulge in a period of silent thanks to God for these … valorous lives and of supplication for His Divine mercy … on our beloved country.” In 1938, Congress declared Nov. 11 — designated Armistice Day — a federal holiday to commemorate the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.
Inscribed on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier are the words, “Here lies in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.” That day was known as Armistice Day until 1954, when Congress, wanting to recognize the sacrifice of veterans since WWI, proposed to name it Veterans Day. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, former Supreme Commander in WWII, signed the legislation.
To honor those Patriots of the ultimate sacrifice, an Army honor guard from the 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard) keeps a day-and-night vigil at Arlington. At 11 a.m. today, a combined color guard representing all military service branches will execute “Present Arms” at the tomb. The President will then lay a wreath. This will be followed by “Taps.”
It is a fitting place and a focal point to honor American veterans, but as General George S. Patton, Jr., reminded us, “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.” Indeed.
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America’s Veterans: Our Heroes of the Past, Present, and Future
The 8th Annual Paralyzed Veterans of America Veterans Day Poster and Essay Contests are now closed for entries. Thank you to all who entered.
The entries are currently being processed and the grand prize winners will be notified on October 24, 2011. The final results of the contest will be announced in November.
Please check the website for information on the upcoming 9th Annual Paralyzed Veterans of America Veterans Day Poster and Essay Contest..
Read about our 2010 winners
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By Mark Alexander · Thursday, November 11, 2010
The Next Generation of Patriot Veterans
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” –John 15:12-14
It is notable that Veterans Day shares the same anniversary date as the signing of the Mayflower Compact in 1620. That simple document, after all, is the taproot of a great nation, now a shining beacon of Liberty, which owes its very existence to the toils and trials of generations of American Veterans.
From the cold winter winds at Valley Forge in 1777 to the deadly terrain of the Korengal Valley in eastern Afghanistan today, generations of American Patriots have stood fast in defense of Liberty and at great cost.
[Amid all the political rancor about justifications for operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, it is worth remembering the words of USMC Chaplain Dennis Edward O’Brian: “It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.”]
I am certain I will never meet a seasoned war Veteran who is fond of combat, but to a man, every Patriot concurs with John Stuart Mill’s timeless note on the subject: “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. A man who has nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance at being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”
I am equally certain that these Patriots, like millions of others since the 1789 founding of our Republic, have honored their “sacred oaths” to support and defend the Liberty enshrined in our Constitution, against all enemies foreign and domestic.
“If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.” –Thomas Paine
“Lord, guard and guide the men who fly And those who on the ocean ply; Be with our troops upon the land, And all who for their country stand: Be with these guardians day and night
and may their trust be in Thy might.” –Author Unknown, 1955
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis! (“Always Vigilant, Brave”, “Faithful and Ready”)