Veteran's Day falls annually on November 11 and marks a special time where citizens across the United States honor the valiant service and sacrifice of our armed forces in the past as well as the present.
Veterans Day wasn't always known as Veterans Day; rather, it was for many years referred to as Armistice Day, which celebrated the end of World War I, or "The Great War." The treaty that marked Armistice Day was signed on November 11th at 11 o'clock - the date and time that hostilities ceased ending the "war to end all wars".
On May 13, 1938, the U.S. government made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday. Sadly, the "war to end all wars" didn't live up to its name, as the devastating and bloody World War II occurred just a short time later, and the Korean War after that.
In response, the 83rd U.S. Congress -- at the urging of the veterans service organizations -- amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, Nov. 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
History.com notes that while Veteran's Day pays tribute to all American veterans, living or dead, it especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.
Every year, an official wreath-laying ceremony is held on Veterans Day at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery. A guard from the United States Army's 3rd Infantry Regiment keeps watch over the tomb both day and night, commemorating all soldiers who died while serving our country. The inscription on the tomb reads, "Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God."
Additionally, many people observe Veteran's Day with parades and other patriotic celebrations, while some churches hold services on this special day.
For believers, Veteran's Day should serve as a reminder of the ultimate sacrifice that was paid on our behalf - that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, willingly bore our sins on the cross at Calvary so that we might be reconciled to Him, offering free forgiveness and new life to all of those who call on His name.
John 3:16-17 says: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him".
This Veteran's Day, take a moment to thank the veteran - and continue to pray for those in active duty and the families of those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom. More importantly, remind the younger generation of their duty towards their country, and inspire them to uphold the tradition of liberty and justice for all.
As President John F. Kennedy once said, "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."