The Meaning of Veterans Day

The Meaning of Veterans Day

By Judge Gerald A. Williams


What we now know as Veterans Day was originally known as Armistice Day. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed it as such in 1919 after World War I had ended the year before on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month (November 11, 1918 at 11:00 a.m.).  Years later, a World War II veteran organized a parade to honor all veterans, and eventually, Congress changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day in 1954.

For many veterans, all volunteers, the United States of America is special and is worth fighting for. Are we exceptional because people who live here are better than people in other countries? No. Are we exceptional because we have better food? Not really. America is exceptional because its founding documents contain a set of exceptional ideas.  

Veterans and their families have sacrificed to support and to preserve these ideas. Veterans often endure long separations from their families, miss the births and birthdays of their children, freeze in the snow, bake in a jungle or in a desert and return with wounds that at first are unseen.  

Military spouses must endure career interruptions and a disproportionate share of household and parental responsibilities. Dependent children must deal with changes in schools, the realization that many friendships will be temporary and the stress that comes with the uncertainty of having a deployed parent.            

It is appropriate each year to stop and to remember the men and the women who set aside their civilian pursuits to serve in a uniform. None sought gratitude, but all deserve it.

The Anthem Veterans Memorial uniquely pays tribute to the historical significance of the origins of Veterans Day. Each November 11, at 11:11 a.m., the sun’s rays will pass perfectly through five pillars representing the branches of our nation’s armed forces. At that moment, a glass mosaic depiction of the seal of the United States is illuminated. If you have not seen it, you should do so.            

– Judge Gerald A. Williams is the Justice of the Peace for the North Valley Justice Court.  The court’s jurisdiction includes Anthem and Desert Hills.

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