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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day: Events, Write a Letter of "Thanks", History, Facts, Tomb of Unknowns, AHEPA message, Orthodox Veterans Memorial web page

Arlington National Cemetery will have a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at 11 a.m. Seating in the amphitheater is limited and attendees will be required to pass through a security checkpoint to gain access to the ceremony. Mount Vernon will host special activities including a patriotic community concert by the all-veteran barbershop chorus at 11 a.m. There will be a wreath laying at George Washington's tomb at 2 p.m. Falls Church is hosting a ceremony in front of the Community Center, 223 Little Falls St., at 11 a.m. Former U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony Principi will speak. Other highlights include a wreath presentation and prayer for departed veterans and a performance by the Falls Church City Concert Band. The World War II Memorial will have a wreath laying ceremony at 9 a.m. ... The Air Force Memorial will have a wreath laying ceremony and a two-minute moment of silence to commemorate those who lost their lives during war at 11 a.m. ... Vietnam Veterans Memorial will have a color guard, speakers and a wreath laying ceremony at 1 p.m. ... The Naval District of Washington will lay a wreath at the Lone Sailor Statue at the Navy Memorial at 1 p.m.

When there is so much we could say, there is one thing we must: "Thanks". Write your own letter (online) to Veterans by clicking here.

World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.” In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, 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…" The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m. The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words: Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples. An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as "Armistice Day." Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting in its place the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars. Later that same year, on October 8th, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first "Veterans Day Proclamation" which stated: "In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible." On that same day, President Eisenhower sent a letter to the Honorable Harvey V. Higley, Administrator of Veterans' Affairs (VA), designating him as Chairman of the Veterans Day National Committee. In 1958, the White House advised VA's General Counsel that the 1954 designation of the VA Administrator as Chairman of the Veterans Day National Committee applied to all subsequent VA Administrators. Since March 1989 when VA was elevated to a cabinet level department, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs has served as the committee's chairman. The Uniform Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250)) was signed on June 28, 1968, and was intended to ensure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. It was thought that these extended weekends would encourage travel, recreational and cultural activities and stimulate greater industrial and commercial production. Many states did not agree with this decision and continued to celebrate the holidays on their original dates. The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on October 25, 1971. It was quite apparent that the commemoration of this day was a matter of historic and patriotic significance to a great number of our citizens, and so on September 20th, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978. This action supported the desires of the overwhelming majority of state legislatures, all major veterans service organizations and the American people. Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

IV. HISTORY - Veterans Day Facts

Veterans Day originated as "Armistice Day" on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day--a common misunderstanding, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Memorial Day (the fourth Monday in May) honors American service members who died in service to their country or as a result of injuries incurred during battle, while Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans--living or dead--but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime. Veterans Day Facts --- In 1954, President Eisenhower officially changed the name of the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day. In 1968, the Uniform Holidays Bill was passed by Congress, which moved the celebration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. The law went into effect in 1971, but in 1975 President Ford returned Veterans Day to November 11, due to the important historical significance of the date. Britain, France, Australia and Canada also commemorate the veterans of World Wars I and II on or near November 11th: Canada has Remembrance Day, while Britain has Remembrance Sunday (the second Sunday of November). In Europe, Britain and the Commonwealth countries it is common to observe two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. every November 11. Veterans Facts --- The brave men and women who serve and protect the U.S. come from all walks of life; they are parents, children and grandparents. They are friends, neighbors and coworkers, and an important part of their communities. Here are some facts about the current veteran population of the United States --- 9.2 million veterans are over the age of 65. 1.9 million veterans are under the age of 35. 1.8 million veterans are women. 7.8 million veterans served during the Vietnam War era (1964-1975), which represents 33% of all living veterans. 5.2 million veterans served during the Gulf War (representing service from Aug. 2, 1990, to present). 2.6 million veterans served during World War II (1941-1945). 2.8 million veterans served during the Korean War (1950-1953). 6 million veterans served in peacetime. As of 2008, 2.9 million veterans received compensation for service-connected disabilities. 5 states have more than 1 million veterans in among their population: California (2.1 million), Florida (1.7 million), Texas (1.7 million), New York (1 million) and Pennsylvania (1 million). The VA health care system had 54 hospitals in 1930, since then it has expanded to include 171 medical centers; more than 350 outpatient, community, and outreach clinics; 126 nursing home care units; and 35 live-in care facilities for injured or disabled vets.

Veterans Day is an annual United States holiday honoring veterans. A federal holiday, it is observed on Nov. 11. It is also celebrated as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in other parts of the world and is the anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended World War I. Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. Memorial Day is another federal holiday observed on the last Monday in May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. soldiers who died while in the military service. Over the years, more public interest has been shown the above holidays, while less to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Since April 6, 1948, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier has been guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year regardless of weather. Millions of Americans annually visit the black mat on the west face of the tomb. It is a time-honored ritual, executed with great precision, and filled with American pride. The sentinel marches 21 steps across the black mat, past the final resting places of unknown soldiers of World War I, World War II, Korea and the crypt of the Unknown Soldier of Vietnam. With a crisp turn, the sentinel turns 90 degrees to face the east for 21 seconds. The sentinel then turns a sharp 90 degrees again to face north for 21 seconds. A crisp “shoulder arms” movement places the rifle on the shoulder nearest the visitors to signify that the sentinel stands between the tomb and any threat. The practiced cadence is timed so that the sentinel paces at a rate of 90 steps each minute. Appropriately, the men who march 21 steps south, turn and walk 21 steps north, then repeat the process minute-by-minute for up to an hour at a time day or night, are the very best of the Army’s best. Whether under a blazing sun, unsheltered from driving rains or freezing snow, they perform their duty with great precision and military bearing. Each of them is a volunteer, eligible to apply for duty as a sentinel only after they have already been ceremonially qualified. Each soldier is physically fit for the demanding responsibility and between 5 feet, 10 inches and 6 feet, 4 inches tall with proportionate weight and build. It may take months for soldiers to earn the right to test, to wear the coveted silver Tomb Guard Identification badge, and even then, the award is temporary. Only after the sentinel has served nine months does the award become permanent. One of the Army’s rarest emblems, it features the inverted laurel and replica of the east face of the tomb where Greek images represent the virtues of victory, valor and peace. Sentinels are members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) Fort Myer, Virginia.

To all our veterans, and to those troops serving on active duty, we are deeply grateful for the sacrifices you have made in defense of our great nation and the values and principles that we cherish and so often take for granted. The Order of AHEPA is proud to count many Veterans as members, and we are a stronger Order because of that fact. On behalf of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association, and our affiliated organizations, a sincere "thank you" to all our Veterans.

Saint Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral, in Washington, DC, invites all Orthodox parishes in the US to add the names, ranks, and photographs of their US military veterans to the newly established Orthodox Veterans Memorial web page, a 21st century extension of the cathedral's continuing commitment to praying for our Orthodox fallen. "Our chaplains serve Orthodox of all jurisdictions and, as such, our War Memorial will honor all Orthodox Christians whose names have been submitted to be honored," wrote His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, in a letter to the faithful and friends of Saint Nicholas Cathedral. "We must never forget their sacrifice and those who have, as Abraham Lincoln so eloquently stated in his Gettysburg Address, 'given their last full measure of devotion.'" The Orthodox Church has a longstanding tradition of dedicating churches to the memory of Orthodox Christians who have fought and died in defense of Church and country. Saint Nicholas Cathedral, modeled after the 12th century Church of Saint Dmitri in Vladimir, Russia, was built in the early 1960s as the National War Memorial Shrine. A decade-long effort to raise funds for the cathedral's construction had been blessed by the Holy Synod of Bishops in 1949. The cathedral was dedicated in 1963 to the memory of Orthodox Christians who died fighting for freedom in the Russian Revolution, World Wars I and II, and the Korean War. A bronze dedicatory tablet hangs at the entrance of the cathedral, and a book listing the names of the fallen, collected from parishes across the nation, is kept in the altar. Each year, on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, these names are read aloud during the Divine Liturgy. The cathedral's new Veterans Memorial web page features a growing list of Orthodox veterans by jurisdiction and parish. On-line visitors can find the webpage by clicking the tab labeled "Veterans" on the navigation section of the cathedral's website, New names and photographs will be added as they are received. Additions to the web site should be submitted by e-mail to Please include the words "VETERANS" in the subject line of all emails. Names should be submitted in the following format: *** Jurisdiction, Name of Home Parish, Location of Home Parish (e.g., GOARCH, Hagia Sophia Cathedral, Washington, DC) *** Full Name of Veteran, Rank, Branch of Service, Years of Service, Wartime Service, Awards for Valor, Active/Retired/Deceased/KIA/MIA. (e.g., Pappas, George J., COL, US Army, 1948-1978, Korea, Vietnam, Silver Star, Retired.) Please address all hardcopy correspondence concerning the Veterans Memorial to Veterans Memorial Coordinator, Saint Nicholas Cathedral, 3500 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20007. Names of service members killed in action (KIA) or are missing in action (MIA) not already included on the cathedral's listing of the fallen will be added and duly commemorated in the Divine Liturgy on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.