Source: Common Dreams
As a veteran, I will not be misled and victimized once more by the militarists and war profiteers.
Following World War One, up until then the bloodiest and most destructive war in the history of humankind, many of the beleaguered belligerent nations resolved, at least temporarily, that such devastation and tragic loss of life must never happen again. In the United States, on June 4, 1926, Congress passed a concurrent resolution establishing November 11th, the day in 1918 when the fighting stopped, as Armistice Day, a legal holiday, the intent and purpose of which would be to “commemorate with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations.”
In accordance with this resolution, President Calvin Coolidge issued a Proclamation on November 3rd 1926, “inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches or other places, with appropriate ceremonies expressive of our gratitude for peace and our desire for the continuance of friendly relations with all other peoples.”
Disappointingly, despite its designation as “the war to end all wars,” and the intent of Armistice Day to make November 11th a day to celebrate peace, the resolve of nations to ensure that “good will and mutual understanding between nations” prevail, all too quickly faltered. Following another equally “destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war,” World War Two, and the “police action” in Korea, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued a Proclamation that changed the designation of November 11th from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.
“I, Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States of America, do hereby call upon all of our citizens to observe Thursday, November 11, 1954, as Veterans Day. On that day let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.”
Though some continue to question Eisenhower’s decision to change the designation, upon analysis, his motivation and reasoning become apparent. Though far from being a pacifist, as the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force during World War II, he knew and abhorred the destruction and tragic loss of life that war entails. Eisenhower’s Proclamation, I would argue, is an expression of his disappointment and frustration with the failure of nations to follow through with their Armistice Day resolve to avoid war and seek alternative means for conflict resolution. In changing the designation, Eisenhower hoped to remind America of war’s horror and futility, the sacrifices of those who struggled in its behalf, and the need to reassert a commitment to an enduring peace. Though the name was changed, the promise to promote friendly relations between all nations and all people of the world remained the same.