Veterans Day: A day of comradery, complacency and celebrations

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Is it Veterans Day, Veteran’s Day or Veterans’ Day, and what are we observing on that day? The correct spelling is Veterans Day. It does not include an apostrophe, but it does include an “s” because it is not a day that “belongs” to veterans, but a day honoring all veterans.

Veterans Day is different from Memorial Day, which is often confused with Veterans Day, because while both honor the lives sacrificed during service – Veterans Day is a day to honor all veterans who have served – living and deceased. Veterans can usually find a free meal on that day, but some have thoughts other than food.

“It is a day you stop and remember the people in the military; people actually stop, notice and pay attention,” said retired Master Sgt. Robert Little. “I think back on the people I served with, dead and alive, on that day.”

Little retired from the army in 1998 as a Master Sgt. and served in two wars, Vietnam and the Gulf War. He volunteered for the Draft in 1965, served two years and went back in 1970 before finally retiring in 1998.

Veterans Day, previously known as Armistice Day, was started to celebrate WWI veterans. The date of Nov. 11 was chosen because an armistice, temporary cessation of hostilities, was called on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918 – seven months prior to the signing of the Treaty of Versailles June 28, 1919. It was President Woodrow Wilson who proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day (Wilson’s Speech). In 1938, an approved Act made the Nov. 11 a legal holiday. That Act was amended by the 83rd Congress striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans,” making Nov. 11 a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

“After Vietnam, it was a lot different, it got mundane, but it’s getting back now, the need to recognize what vets have done,” Little said on how he feels about the public’s appreciation for veterans.

Veterans day is celebrated across the nation in a myriad of ways, which include parades, speeches and services. It is a holiday for most federal institutions, like banks. Other institutions, especially commercial businesses, try to honor vets their own way by having sales, offering free meals or just saying thanks. One popular place is the local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) hall; where veterans can find fellowship with a meal and swap war stories while sharing in a comradery that few can understand.

University of Houston-Clear Lake recognized and supported members of the U.S. military at the annual UH-Clear Lake Veterans Day Celebration. A choir performance and presentation of the colors by Clear Lake High School Junior ROTC was followed by a keynote address given by Veteran Maj. Maurice Wilson, U.S. Army, University of Houston professor.

UHCL College of Science and Engineering student Edward B. Dunlap, 21-year veteran of the Navy and Coast Guard, was one of the volunteers at the ceremony.

“They asked me to volunteer, and I have been doing it my whole life, so I showed up and served at a booth among other things,” Dunlap said.

Other students observed the holiday in different ways. Kasey Close, communication major and an 8-year veteran Airforce photographer, took time to honor those still serving.

“It’s about honoring those who are currently serving and away from family,” Close said. “My husband puts a glass of liquor out for those deployed who cannot celebrate and share a drink among friends.”