November 11, 1918...
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 the armistice ending fighting in WWI, the war to end all wars, was signed. While the peace did not last, the date gained recognition throughout the western world.

In 1921, an unknown World War I American soldier was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Similar ceremonies occurred earlier in England and France, where an unknown soldier was buried in each nation's highest place of honor (in England, Westminster Abbey; in France, the Arc de Triomphe).

  Soldiers of the 353rd Infantry near a church at Stenay, Meuse in France, wait for the end of hostilities.  This photo was taken at 10:58 a.m., on November 11, 1918, two minutes before the armistice ending World War I went into effect.
Soldiers of the 353rd Infantry near a church at Stenay, Meuse in France, wait for the end of hostilities. This photo was taken at 10:58 a.m., on November 11, 1918, two minutes before the armistice ending World War I went into effect.
These memorial gestures all took place on November 11, giving universal recognition to the celebrated ending of World War I fighting at 11 a.m..

Armistice Day officially received its name in America in 1926 through a Congressional resolution. It became a national holiday 12 years later by similar Congressional action. If the idealistic hope had been realized that World War I was "the War to end all Wars," November 11 might still be called Armistice Day. But only a few years after the holiday was proclaimed, war broke out in Europe.

Realizing that peace was equally preserved by veterans of WW II and Korea, Congress was requested to make this day an occasion to honor those who have served America in all wars. In 1954 President Eisenhower signed a bill proclaiming November 11 as Veterans Day.

A law passed in 1968 changed the national commemoration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. It soon became apparent, however, that November 11 was a date of historic significance to many Americans. Therefore, in 1978 Congress returned the observance to its traditional date.


The Origins of Veterans Day

In 1921, an unknown World War I American soldier was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. This site, on a hillside overlooking the Potomac River and the city of Washington, became the focal point of reverence for America's veterans. Similar ceremonies occurred earlier in England and France, where an unknown soldier was buried in each nation's highest place of honor (in England, Westminster Abbey; in France, the Arc de Triomphe). These memorial gestures all took place on November 11, giving universal recognition to the celebrated ending of World War I fighting at 11 a.m., November 11, 1918 (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month). The day became known as "Armistice Day." Armistice Day officially received its name in America in 1926 through a Congressional resolution. It became a national holiday 12 years later by similar Congressional action. If the idealistic hope had been realized that World War I was "the War to end all wars," November 11 might still be called Armistice Day. But only a few years after the holiday was proclaimed, war broke out in Europe. Sixteen and one-half million Americans took part. Four hundred seven thousand of them died in service, more than 292,000 in battle.









Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall     The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall     The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall

 
"If you are able, save for them a place inside of you and save one backward glance when you are leaving for the places they can no longer go.

Be not ashamed to say you loved them, though you may or may not have always. Take what they have taught you with their dying and keep it with your own.

And in that time when men decide and feel safe to call the war insane, take one moment to embrace those gentle heroes you left behind.

Major Michael Davis O'Donnell
1 January 1970 - Dak To, Vietnam
Listed as KIA February 7, 1978



Arlington National Cemetery

The Arlington National Cemetary     The Memorial Amphitheater with the Tomb of the Unknowns in front of it.     The Arlington National Cemetary

National Ceremonies held at Arlington

The focal point for official, national ceremonies for Veterans Day continues to be the memorial amphitheater built around the Tomb of the Unknowns. At 11 a.m. on November 11, a combined color guard representing all military services executes "Present Arms" at the tomb. The nationís tribute to its war dead is symbolized by the laying of a presidential wreath. The bugler plays "taps." The rest of the ceremony takes place in the amphitheater. Veterans Day ceremonies at Arlington and elsewhere are coordinated by the President's Veterans Day National Committee. Chaired by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the committee represents national veterans organizations. Governors of states and U.S. territories appoint Veterans Day chairpersons who, in cooperation with the National Committee and the Department of Defense, arrange and promote local ceremonies.




The Tomb of the Unknowns

The Tomb of The Unknown Soldier     Freedom Isn't Free     The Tomb of The Unknown Soldier

Guarding The Tomb of The Unknown Soldier     Guarding The Tomb of The Unknown Soldier     Guarding The Tomb of The Unknown Soldier


Changing of the Guard     Changing of the Guard


  Here Rests In Honored Glory An American Soldier Known But To God

The Tomb of the Unknowns, near the center of the cemetery, is one of Arlington's most popular tourist sites.

The Tomb contains the remains of unknown American soldiers from World Wars I and II, the Korean Conflict and (until 1998) the Vietnam War. Each was presented with the Medal of Honor at the time of interment and the medals, as well as the flags which covered their caskets, are on display inside the Memorial Amphitheater, directly to the rear of the Tomb.

The Tomb is guarded 24-hours-per-day and 365-days-per year by specially trained members of the 3rd United States Infantry (The Old Guard).

The Memorial Amphitheater has been the scene of the funerals of some prominent Americans (such as General John J. "Black Jack" Pershing) as well as the site of both Memorial Day and Veterans Days celebrations.

In 2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching Washington, DC, our US Senate/House took 2 days off with anticipation of the storm. On the ABC evening news, it was reported that because of the dangers from the hurricane, the military members assigned the duty of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were given permission to suspend the assignment. They respectfully declined the offer, "No way, Sir!" Soaked to the skin, marching in the pelting rain of a tropical storm, they said that guarding the Tomb was not just an assignment, it was the highest honor that can be afforded to a serviceperson. The tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930.

-- Guards are changed every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.

-- Guards carry the rifle on the shoulder away from the tomb. After his march across the     path, he executes an about face and moves the rifle to the outside shoulder.

-- His gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his grip on the rifle.

-- Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniforms ready for guard duty.

-- For a person to apply for guard duty at the tomb, he must be between 5' 10' and 6' 2' tall     and his waist size cannot exceed 30.

-- They must commit 2 years of life to guard the tomb, live in a barracks under the tomb, and     cannot drink any alcohol on or off duty for the rest of their lives. They cannot swear in     public for the rest of their lives and cannot disgrace the uniform or the tomb in any way.

-- After two years, the guard is given a wreath pin that is worn on their lapel signifying they     served as guard of the tomb. There are only 400 presently worn. The guard must obey     these rules for the rest of their lives or give up the wreath pin.

-- The shoes are specially made with very thick soles to keep the heat and cold from their     feet. There are metal heel plates that extend to the top of the shoe in order to make the     loud click as they come to a halt.

-- There are no wrinkles, folds or lint on the uniform. Guards dress for duty in front of a
    full-length mirror.

-- The first six months of duty a guard cannot talk to anyone nor watch TV. All off duty time     is spent studying the 175 notable people laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery . A     guard must memorize who they are and where they are interred.

How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the tomb of the Unknowns and why?
21 steps: It alludes to the twenty-one gun salute which is the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary.

How long does he hesitate after his about face to begin his return walk and why?
21 seconds for the same reason as above.




World War II Memorial


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WWII Memorial Freedom Wall - (Photo by Richard Latoff) Field of 4,000 Gold Stars honors more than 400,000 lives lost during the war - (Photo by Richard Latoff)


The World War II Memorial honors the 16 million who served in the armed forces of the U.S., the more than 400,000 who died, and all who supported the war effort from home. Symbolic of the defining event of the 20th Century, the memorial is a monument to the spirit, sacrifice, and commitment of the American people. The Second World War is the only 20th Century event commemorated on the National Mall's central axis.



Veterans Day Poems


"The Final Inspection"


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