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Veteran's Day



Veterans' Day (November 11) In 1918, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month, the world rejoiced and celebrated. After four years of bitter war, an armistice was signed. The "war to end all wars" was over. November 11 was set aside as Armistice Day in the United States, to remember the sacrifices that men and women made during the war in order to ensure a lasting peace. On Armistice Day, soldiers who survived the war marched in a parade through their home towns. Politicians and veteran officers gave speeches and held ceremonies of thanks for the peace they had won. Congress voted Armistice Day a legal holiday in 1938, twenty years after the war ended. But Americans realized that the previous war would not be the last one. World War II began the following year, and nations great and small again participated in a bloody struggle. After the Second World War, Armistice Day continued to be observed on November 11. In 1953 townspeople in Emporia, Kansas called the holiday Veterans' Day in gratitude to the veterans in their town. Soon after, Congress passed a bill introduced by a Kansas congressman renaming the national holiday to Veterans' Day. Americans still give thanks for peace on Veterans' Day. There are ceremonies and speeches, and at 11:00 in the morning, most Americans observe a moment of silence, remembering those who fought for peace. After the United States' involvement in the Vietnam War, the emphasis on holiday activities has shifted. There are fewer military parades and ceremonies. Veterans gather at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. to place gifts and stand quiet vigil at the names of their friends and relatives who fell in the Vietnam War. Families who have lost sons and daughters in wars turn their thoughts more toward peace and the avoidance of future wars. Veterans of military service have organized support groups such as the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars. On Veterans' Day and Memorial Day, these groups raise funds for their charitable activities by selling paper poppies made by disabled veterans. This bright red wildflower became a symbol of World War I after a bloody battle in a field of poppies called Flanders Field in Belgium.



Weather permitting, outdoor flag-raising ceremonies permit group participation in an event which by its routine usually escapes attention. Such a ceremony, although brief,

should include the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of the National Anthem. A special guest may participate.

Depending on the facilities available, an indoor assembly program can provide a most meaningful tribute to Veterans Day. The scope of such a program may be large enough to permit invitations to the community at large. The following ceremony outline with prepared Veterans Day remarks represents a typical one-hour program.

PRELUDE AND POSTING OF COLORS-As the audience enters to be seated, a community musical organization and/or performer may offer several appropriate selections. A procession and posting of colors is always a stirring event. Local veterans service organizations often participate in such programs with their impressive array of banners and flags.

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE TO THE FLAG AND NATIONAL ANTHEM-The director should invite the audience to stand and join in the Pledge of Allegiance and singing of the National Anthem.

INTRODUCTORY REMARKS-The tone for the program may be set by appropriate introductory remarks lasting several minutes. The following remarks may be used or, if desired, the President's Veterans Day Proclamation may be read.

Today there is, and perhaps there always will be, conflict in the world. But the United States fortunately enjoys peace and freedom.

Like other things of great value, this security did not come cheaply. Part of the cost has already been paid by Americans who answered the call to military duty when their country needed them. They served in 11 wars from the Revolution to the Persian Gulf, earning the special distinction "veteran."

But another part of freedom's cost must continue to be paid long after the guns have been silenced. This debt is owed America's veterans.

Some need their country's help, even as their country once needed theirs, to readjust, to recover from wounds or to overcome hardships of age and infirmity. Most need and ask nothing in repayment of their sacrifices.

Let us continue to help those veterans in need with the greatest possible compassion and efficiency. To the rest, since they ask no special help, we can best pay tribute this day by recognizing what they have achieved and joining them in their resolve to keep America strong and free.

SPECIAL MUSICAL SELECTION-A band or choral group should offer one of the more impressive patriotic selections available.

INTRODUCTION OF GUESTS-Dignitaries selected as special guests may include local government officials, residents with distinguished military service, veterans from the community who represent different periods of service and staff who are veterans.

READING-A reading of a well-known patriotic address by an American president or famous military hero by a talented student can be effective. There are a number of published musicals/narratives which could add greatly to your program.

MOMENT OF SILENCE-Taps-While Veterans Day is typically a tribute to America's living veterans, it is always appropriate to include a moment of respect for those who gave their lives for their country. The signing of the World War I Armistice took place in a railway coach near the battle zone in France. The bugles sounded "cease firing" and the hostilities ended, marking a most significant moment in world history. Although 11 a.m. remains a traditional hour for this type of tribute, a moment of silence is appropriate at any point in the program. This may be followed by an instrumental or vocal rendition of "Taps."

CLOSING-Accompanied by appropriate music, assembled colors should be retired. Then the audience may file out.




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.

by Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, WWI, 1918

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the Gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the mornings hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight,
I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die.

-Author Unknown


** Veterans gather at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC to stand quiet vigil at the names of their friends who fell in that war. Special services are held at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Ceremony, Virginia.

** Most Americans observe a moment of silence at 11 am remembering those who fought for peace.

** 1954 October 8th, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first 'Veterans Day Proclamation '

** Veterans of military service have organized support groups such as the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars. On V-Day and Memorial Day, these groups raise funds for their charitable activities by selling paper poppies made by disabled veterans. These red bright wildflowers became a symbol of WW I after a bloody battle in a field of poppies called Flanders Field in Belgium.

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