Veterans Day

Veterans Day is a forgotten day for most Americans. Why? Probably because it’s not a 3-day weekend nobody knows – and few care about – the origin of. But being the history buffs we are, let’s look deeper into Veterans Day.

Originally called Armistice Day, the first observance was November 11, 1919. It commemorated the first anniversary of the armistice – the unofficial end – that stopped the fighting in World War I. Congress made it an annual observance in 1926 with these words:

Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and

Whereas it is fitting 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; and

Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the 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.

Armistice Day became a national holiday in 1938, differing from Memorial Day in that it honors the living soldiers – as well as the deceased – who have served in times of war and peace. In 1954, after the end of WWII and the Korean War, President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially changed the name to Veterans Day to include all veterans.

Note the lack of a possessive apostrophe in the name. That’s because it’s not a day that belongs to veterans. It’s a day to commemorate all veterans.

Oh, and we can thank President Gerald R. Ford that Veterans Day wasn’t made into just another 3-day weekend, another reason to BBQ and party. Congress moved it to the 4th Monday in October in 1971. President Ford, understanding its powerful significance in our history at the end of the Vietnam War, reversed that in 1975. Bless him.

Pegg Thomas – Writing History with a Touch of Humor

Managing Editor for Smitten Historical Romance, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

Find Pegg on Facebook and Amazon

  

Friggatriskaidekaphobia

I’d love to tell you that I can pronounce friggatriskaidekaphobia, but let’s be real. At least I know it means fear of Friday the 13th. Since we’re a history blog, let’s look at why this date is so vilified – and has been for centuries.

Legend has it that Eve handed Adam that dastardly little piece of fruit on Friday the 13th. Well, yeah, that wasn’t a good move, but there was no known calendar when Adam and Eve frolicked in the Garden.

Another legend says that the Temple of Solomon was desecrated on Friday the 13th. Ignore the fact that the calendar of that time was not the same as what we use today, that was a history-changing event.

Many people believe that Jesus was crucified on Friday the 13th. Since that’s Good Friday, I think we can cancel it out. Even if it was on the 13th, let’s agree that having a Savior isn’t a bad thing.

Probably the best-known legend is that the Knights Templar were rounded up by France’s King Philip IV on Friday, October 13, 1307. After being tortured and forced to confess to all sorts of evils, the survivors were burned at the stake. Okay, that one’s in the ghastly column. Egads! That was just 710 years ago today!

Let’s look at some more recent events that happened on Oct. 13ths:

1775 – The Continental Navy began.

1792 – The cornerstone of the White House was laid.

1845 – Texas ratified a state constitution.

1943 – Italy declared war on Germany.

1950 – Jimmy Stewart starred in Harvey. (Disclaimer: This is one of my favorite movies.)

1967 – The American Basketball Assn. debuted.

2010 – Chilean miners were rescued after 69 days underground.

On balance, I’d say there have been more good events than bad events on this day in history … so don’t be afraid to venture forth and enjoy the day!

Pegg Thomas – Writing History with a Touch of Humor

Managing Editor for Smitten Historical Romance, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

Find Pegg on Facebook and Amazon