Monday will mark the 101st anniversary of the event that was the genesis of Veterans Day, when on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, an armistice ended fighting in World War I, commonly referred to in those days as “The Great War” or “The War to End All Wars.”
Nov. 11 was made a legal holiday in 1938 and was originally intended to honor veterans of World War I. In 1954 it was changed to honor American veterans of all the nation’s wars.
For a while the holiday moved around; in 1968 the Uniform Holiday Bill was signed into law, moving Veterans Day and three other holidays (Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day and Columbus Day) to Monday.
In the case of Veterans Day the move created a lot of confusion and backlash, and in 1975 it was restored to Nov. 11. (Which is in fact a Monday this year).
Veterans Day celebrates the living veterans who have served our nation and are now serving our community. And Jackson County has a lot to celebrate and many reasons to be proud.
According to the VA Census, about 4,800 veterans in Jackson County, including Tribal veterans, call the county home.
The largest cohort of those veterans served during the Vietnam era.
Back to the present: A number of events will honor local veterans here in early November. The annual Jackson County Veterans Appreciation Dinner is set for today (Thursday) from 6-8 p.m. in the dining hall at the Jackson County Senior Center.
There is no charge for the meal; as there is limited seating, call Sheila Setzer or Scott Mathews at 631-2231 to make a reservation.
One veteran may attend with one guest; while a formal dinner will be served, dress can be casual. There will be entertainment and a raffle.
On Sunday, the fifth annual Veterans Day Parade presented by the Jackson County Veterans Office kicks off at 3 p.m. in downtown Sylva.
American Legion Post 104 will provide refreshments and facilities for participants, who are asked to be at Mark Watson Park at 2 p.m. to line up.
The parade is open to all veterans; for more information call the Jackson County Veterans Office at 631-2231.
Veterans Day is the day to honor those who have served. A handshake and a “thank you” can go a long way to making a veteran’s day, particularly if it’s a veteran who has received neither over the years.
However, the responsibility of ordinary citizens serving those who served extends beyond one day. It’s a year-round job, and it’s particularly important in election years to make sure the promises made to those who sacrificed for the nation are fulfilled.
Keep the heat on politicians to make sure veterans hospitals are properly funded, that promised benefits are delivered and that those who served are getting a square deal.
“They honorably served their country with great sacrifice,” said Sheila Setzer, director of the Jackson County Veterans Office, “but now it is our turn to honorably serve the Veterans of Jackson County and other veterans past, present, and future.”