By NEMS Daily Journal
Veterans Day honors the service of every person who has ever worn the military uniforms of the United States, and every veteran is due the respect and thanks of all other Americans who have been defended and aided by the service branches.
The Iraq and Afghanistan wars again raised the profile of Veterans Day, as have all the wars fought since the armistice than ended World War I’s hostilities became that foundation on which the observance became a national holiday in 1938.
The official national observance is appropriately solemn and symbolic, held at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery at 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month – the precise hour and date the armistice took effect in 1918.
While Veterans Day honors those who served and have died, the observance is primarily focused on those who survive. Parades and special programs are held across the nation, like the one in Tupelo on Saturday, to honor those who served.
Acknowledgment of the day begins at the top, a proclamation issued by the president. President Barack Obama’s proclamation this year follows those of every other president since 1919, the first anniversary cited by President Woodrow Wilson.
“Whether they fought in Salerno or Samarra, Heartbreak Ridge or Helmand, Khe Sanh or the Korengal, our veterans are part of an unbroken chain of men and women who have served our country with honor and distinction. On Veterans Day, we show them our deepest thanks.
“This year, we marked the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. We began to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. We welcomed our veterans back home from Iraq, and we continued to wind down operations in Afghanistan. These milestones remind us that, though much has changed since Americans first took up arms to advance freedom’s cause, the spirit that moved our forebears is the same spirit that has defined each generation of our service members.”
The 2012 salute also makes reference to the ongoing challenges of fully serving the needs of returning veterans – occupational, educational, residential and medical.
U.S. senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker issued salutes, and both are veterans.
“While election years sometimes highlight divisions within our country, it is reassuring that our nation is united in its appreciation for the bravery and courage shown by our fellow Americans who have fought for our nation,” Cochran said.
Veterans Day always falls soon after general election day, an appropriate linkage of service in the defense of freedom.