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Honoring Those Who Served

The date was Nov. 11, 1918, and a devastating war in Europe was nearly over. At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, World War I ended with the signing of an armistice agreement. More than 53,000 Americans soldiers had lost their lives in combat, and an even larger number succumbed to disease while serving overseas. More than 200,000 U.S. servicemen came home wounded. Although our casualties were a fraction of those suffered by European nations, the impact was felt in nearly every village and town in America. The carnage of World War I was so extreme, it became known as “The War to End All Wars.” Clearly, that promise was short-lived, but America’s gratitude for its soldiers inspired a new national holiday.

On Nov. 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first national Armistice Day, marking the anniversary of the war’s end and beginning a tradition of annual observances honoring veterans. In 1938, Congress enacted legislation making Armistice Day a national holiday. In 1954, Armistice Day was officially changed to Veteran’s Day, with a new purpose of honoring every American who had served in the U.S. military.

Today, Veteran’s Day is one of three national holidays honoring military service – the others being Memorial Day and Armed Forces Day. The only one of the three to fall on the same calendar day each year, Veterans Day continues to be observed on Nov. 11. Memorial Day, which honors those who gave their lives in military service, is held on the last Monday in May. We honor active duty military members on Armed Forces Day, the third Saturday in May.

Although Veteran’s Day is intended to recognize living American veterans, inevitably the date also inspires reflection on those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Consequently, many Veteran’s Day ceremonies and events include solemn acknowledgements of veterans who are no longer among us. Two flag displays scheduled for Veterans Day weekend — the Field of Heroes at USO Chimney Park in St. Robert and the Flags of Honor at Veterans Memorial Park in Rolla — pay tribute to veterans lost.

A day to celebrate living veterans, Nov. 11 provides an opportunity to recognize veterans for their patriotism, sacrifice and love of country. It’s also a day for the rest of us to express our appreciation. The public can show their support for veterans by attending the 2022 Veterans Day Ceremony and Parade in Waynesville. The ceremony begins at 11 a.m. at the Waynesville Middle School, with the parade following afterward. Meanwhile, veterans throughout the region are invited as guests of honor at Veterans Day assemblies to be held at schools in Cuba, Salem, Steelville and other communities. Most of these events include either a breakfast or lunch, allowing young people to interact with veterans.

Only 1 in 15 Americans alive today has served in the military. That fact highlights the great debt we all owe to those who stepped forward to serve. America continues to be the beacon of the world, a guiding light for all who seek freedom and opportunity, because veterans stepped forward to defend our ideals. On Nov. 11 let’s all show our appreciation for the liberties we enjoy and thank veterans for the sacrifices they made.

It’s my honor to serve as your senator for the 16th District. If you have questions or need any assistance, please call my office at 573-751-5713 or log onto my webpage at https://www.senate.mo.gov/brown for more information.

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