Millions said the heartfelt words of the United States National Anthem on Sunday, November 11. “Oh, say does that Star-Spangled Banner wave, o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave,” goes the popular anthem.
Billy Lee, Post Commander of Craig VFW Post #4491, understands this phrase from his time in Vietnam.
“It is a time we honor the men and women who have put their lives on hold to help protect our country. I think back to the boys in my platoon in Vietnam who gave their lives for this country,” he said. “I say boys even though they were the best men I have ever served with despite all of us being 18 and 19-years-old.”
Observed annually on November 11, Veterans Day is an official United States public holiday of celebration that honors military Veterans for their patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.
Eugene Francisco, 96, is one of Craig’s oldest Veterans. He recently shared his on the annual day of celebration: “Personally, I’m just happy about the fact that I am still alive. When I was in the war, they kept shooting at me and kept missing until they finally got me in the left leg and foot. I’m glad the dang war is over! I am a disabled Veteran.”
Francisco added: “They say that old soldiers never die they just fade away. I think I believe that because my legs won’t hold me up too good, without holding onto something anymore. But I am so glad to still be here.”
History suggests that World War I, often referred to as “The Great War,” officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Because of that, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as “the war that ended all wars.”
John Crenshaw is the history teacher at Craig County High School and a Veteran himself.
“Veterans Day is a special and personal day for me,” he noted. “These days, I immediately think of the men and women that have served multiple tours of combat duty in Iraq, Afghanistan, et cetera. I worry that they have been overcommitted, even abused, and if they are able to just live a normal life here back in the states, a universe away from the horrors they experienced overseas. I also wonder just how in the world family units can survive the demands of military life, the frequent and extended absences and the multiple moves. Military spouses and their children are remarkably special people.”
In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day stating, “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…”.
The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings, and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m.
It was also decided that the recurring anniversary of this date should be “commemorated with Thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations.” November 11 was then declared a legal holiday.
Later on, a proclamation was made, calling officials to “display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.”
Craig County has a long-lived history of honoring their men and women who served their country, with open arms upon returning from war with annual dinners and Thanksgiving celebrations to honor their faithful commitment and service.
Fourth-grade students of McCleary Elementary expressed their thoughts of Veterans Day to their teacher, Karen Jones.
One pupil named Riley said, “It’s for celebrating Veterans because they served in the military and if they didn’t then probably more bad stuff would be happening.”
Another student, Wyatt, shared, “Veterans Day is important because we respect our military.”
Joseph, another student, added: “It’s because it is the only time we can celebrate our Veterans.”
Carsyn said, “Veterans Day is important to me because it celebrates people who helped you and helped your country.”
Kailyn added, “It’s important because the Veterans helped save lives, and I have family members who are Veterans.”
In June 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American Veterans of all wars. On October 8, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued first Veterans Day Proclamation which stated, “In order to ensure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all Veterans, all Veterans’ organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans’ Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible.”
Jordan Labiosa, Craig County’s new Vice Mayor shared his beliefs, “You cannot truly love this country unless you know our history and understand the sacrifices it took to make us free. Veterans Day is a reminder of who made those sacrifices – the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and friends who made a big difference in our nation’s history.”
Craig County extends its heartfelt appreciation to all Veterans who faithfully served in the United States Armed Forces. You are appreciated, respected and loved.