I just wanted to take the time today to say thank you to all the veterans out there. No matter if you served in the United States Army, United States Navy, United States Marine Corp, United States Air Force, or United States National Guard. Thank you for severing our country.
Veterans Day wasn’t always called Veteran’s Day. It was created after World War I as a day to observe the end of the ‘The Great War’, which was November 11, 1918 and was called Armistice Day. It wasn’t a legal holiday until 1938 when an Congressional Act was passed that May making November 11th the “day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day’.”
It wasn’t until 1954 when President Eisenhower signed a bill that that expand Armistice Day to a day to celebrate all the Veterans that served, not just those who died in World War I. Eight years before in 1945 a World War II veteran named Raymond Weeks from Birmingham, Alabama started the campaign for the expansion of Armistice Day and has since become known as the “Father of Veterans Day”. Mister Weeks was awarded the Presidential Citizenship Medal in 1982 by President Ronald Regan for his work in being the driving force for the holiday.
The bill that President Eisenhower signed was amended by Congress on June 1st 1954 to change the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.
Even though the holiday was scheduled to be celebrated on November 11th of each year, that hasn’t always been the case. The Uniform Monday Holiday Act which was passed in 1968 but didn’t go into effect until 1971, changed the from November 11th to the fourth Monday in October. It stayed that way until 1977. The Dates it was celebrated between 1971-1977 are as follows Oct 25, 1971; Oct 23, 1972; Oct 22, 1973; Oct 28, 1974; Oct 27, 1975; Oct 25, 1976 and Oct 24, 1977. The date was moved back to November 11 in 1978 and has stayed that way ever since. Even though the legal holiday is November 11th, if the date falls on a Saturday or a Sunday then if is Formally observed on either Friday or Monday respectfully.
I know I may have posted one of these poems before but, I can’t help but share them again because whenever I think about Veterans day I think about these.
The first is “In Flanders Fields” by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. You can see the history behind the poem by reading my Memorial Day blog post here.
In Flanders Fields
BY JOHN MCCRAE
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Another was written about the Battle of Normandy, otherwise known as D-Day. It’s titled “Carentan O Carentan” by Louis Simpson
Carentan O Carentan
BY LOUIS SIMPSON
Trees in the old days used to stand
And shape a shady lane
Where lovers wandered hand in hand
Who came from Carentan.
This was the shining green canal
Where we came two by two
Walking at combat-interval.
Such trees we never knew.
The day was early June, the ground
Was soft and bright with dew.
Far away the guns did sound,
But here the sky was blue.
The sky was blue, but there a smoke
Hung still above the sea
Where the ships together spoke
To towns we could not see.
Could you have seen us through a glass
You would have said a walk
Of farmers out to turn the grass,
Each with his own hay-fork.
The watchers in their leopard suits
Waited till it was time,
And aimed between the belt and boot
And let the barrel climb.
I must lie down at once, there is
A hammer at my knee.
And call it death or cowardice,
Don’t count again on me.
Everything’s all right, Mother,
Everyone gets the same
At one time or another.
It’s all in the game.
I never strolled, nor ever shall,
Down such a leafy lane.
I never drank in a canal,
Nor ever shall again.
There is a whistling in the leaves
And it is not the wind,
The twigs are falling from the knives
That cut men to the ground.
Tell me, Master-Sergeant,
The way to turn and shoot.
But the Sergeant’s silent
That taught me how to do it.
O Captain, show us quickly
Our place upon the map.
But the Captain’s sickly
And taking a long nap.
Lieutenant, what’s my duty,
My place in the platoon?
He too’s a sleeping beauty,
Charmed by that strange tune.
Carentan O Carentan
Before we met with you
We never yet had lost a man
Or known what death could do.
And lastly here is a poem called “The Night of the Bayonet” it was written by Walter Gordon and Paul Rogers of Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne. It’s about what happen to another Company member, Floyd Talbert, one night early in the Battle of Normandy. The poem was read during the HBO Mini Series Band of Brothers which depicted the events of what happened to Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne during World War II.
The Night of the Bayonet
The night was filled with dark and cold,
When Sergeant Talbert the story’s told,
Pulled out his poncho and headed out,
To check the lines dressed like a Kraut.
Upon a trooper our hero came,
Fast asleep; he called his name.
“Smith, oh Smith, get up, it’s time
To take your turn out on the line.”
Private Smith, so very weary,
Cracked an eye, all red and bleary,
Grabbed his rifle and did not tarry,
Hearing Floyd, but seeing Gerry.
“It’s me!” cried Tab. “Don’t do it!” and yet,
Smith charged toute de suite with bayonet.
He lunged, he thrust, both high and low,
And skeweth the boy from Kokomo.
And as they carried him away,
Our punctured hero was heard to say,
“When in this war you venture out,
best never do it dressed as a Kraut!”
Well that’s it. Once again I would like to thank all of our Veterans. Because without you none of use will have known the freedoms that comes with your sacrifices. Thank You.