Starr Gazing

Dr. Dan Starr
Retired Director of Athletics and Professor Emeritus of American History at Canisius College.


Veterans Day, U.S.A.

Americans have celebrated veterans from the beginning. Not on a special day, but the individual veterans who fought for American ideals. From the Revolutionary War, and on through major conflicts in modern times, the men and women who served, have been recognized.

It probably wasn’t until President Teddy Roosevelt’s era that the celebrations became gala, heroic affairs. Teddy’s cowboy regiment storming up San Juan hill during the Spanish American War was a magnification affair. President Teddy did not let the country forget. The exploits of “that Splendid Little War” were embellished by the stirring marches of John Phillips Sousa and the Marine Band.

The U. S. entered World War I in its final stages, but the Doughboys made an impact. They returned to the homeland and took part in enthusiastic parades that paid honor to the boys who returned from “Over There” . George M. Cohan played a big role In stirring up the juices of the patriotic masses, with his boisterous songs like “I Yankee Doodle Dandy”. ActorJimmy Cagney played a major part enhancing the role of American veterans.

The government in Washington began to play a part in officially celebrating those who had participated in America’s conflicts. The Armistice ending WW 1 in 1918 was signed on November11, forever remembered by school kids as the “11 hour of the 11 day, of the 11 month”.

In 1938, President FDR proclaimed November 11 a legal holiday. Throughout the 1940s , the citizenry referred to November as Armistice Day. That changed in 1954 when President Eisenhower changed the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day thus honoring those who served - period.

Veteran Bob Dickenson noted the distinction or difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day. The later, part of American history since the Vivil War honors all who lost their lives in America’s conflicts. Veterans Day honors all men and women who have served in any capacity.

Memorial Day is usually highlighted by parades in many communities involving a large number and variety of entries including scouts, high school bands, Gold Star mothers, military units, and more. Trips to local cemeteries are common, and start of the summer picnics and similar festivities are also common. Usually all this happens on one day.

Veterans Day celebrations have progressed into a more widespread series of events. Veterans are recognized in schools and in community centers, at political events and at senior citizen establishments. And some old troopers eagerly look forward to the ever increasing number of freebies. These freebies or gifts often ate complimentary breakfasts or lunches. Also some stores offer welcome discounts to vets.

Especially pleasing are the ever increasing number of people who say “thank you for serving”. It makes the old vet feel good.

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