At the 11th hour, 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, the guns fell silent. The “Great War” was over with the signing of the Armistice by Germany.
In 1919, President Wilson proclaimed the first armistice observance , saying: “To us in American, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”
In 1926, Congress adopted a resolution directing the president to issue an annual proclamation in observance of Armistice Day, and declared Nov. 11 to be a federal holiday in 1938.
President Eisenhower officially changed the name of the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day in 1954.
Congress tinkered with the observance in 1968, designating Veterans Day as the fourth Monday in October, starting in 1971.
Fortunately, in 1975, legislation was passed to return the observance of Veterans Day to Nov. 11, based on popular support throughout the nation. The change was effective in 1978.
The intent of the holiday has changed over the years as noted in Wikipedia: “Veterans Day is largely intended to thank living veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to United States national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who have served - not only those who died - have sacrificed and done their duty.”
The observance of Veterans Day waned during he 1960s and '70s, mainly because of protest over the Vietnam War.
America's men and women in service not only bore the brunt of that war, placing their bodies, in deed their lives, on the line, but also became the target of protesters, for doing their duty.
And for some - too many - the Vietnam War goes on today in haunting memories that never go completely away.
The guns rumble on distant shores once again and U.S. service men and woman find themselves in harm's way once more in an increasingly unpopular war.
But we are heartened to see war protestations are aimed where they should be - at the insanity of war instead of our sons and daughters in harm's way.
Portsmouth and the Scioto County area can be proud, indeed, with a full slate of activities honoring veterans, including Monday's activities in Portsmouth.
It was customary when celebrating Armistice Day in past decades to observe a moment of silence at that 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
Let's all observe a moment of silence today at 11 a.m., offering up a prayer for the safety of our men and women in uniform everywhere.
If you know a veteran, give them a hug or a handshake and a simple thanks for all they do for us. And if you know the family of a veteran, call them today and let them know we appreciate their sacrifice, too.
We sleep safely tonight because of them.
Art Kuhn is managing editor of the Daily Times. Contact him at (740) 353-3101, ext. 244, or e-mail at email@example.com.