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VIEWPOINT: Veterans Day to honor service members' sacrifices

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- I will admit that I'm just as excited as most people to have a three-day weekend on the horizon. Having an extra day to sleep in and get things done around the house will be welcomed, as will taking advantage of the many discounts from restaurateurs, retailers and other service providers for current and former service members Nov. 11-12.

The extra off-duty time may be appreciated, but it should not come without at least a moment of reflection on the purpose of the federal holiday.

Formerly known as Armistice Day until former President Dwight D. Eisenhower changed the name in 1954, the observance first arose following what was referred to as The Great War, or World War I.

In 1919, former President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first honoring of Armistice Day when he stated, "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."

Armistice Day was initially implemented to honor the sacrifices of those in World War I in reference to the "armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany," according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.

In 1954, Eisenhower issued the first Veterans Day proclamation to honor all service members. As Veterans Day, the observance not only encompasses the sacrifices of those in The Great War, but also of every other military conflict.

Countless lives have been lost to military operations in America's history. Many more have volunteered and continue to volunteer to wear the uniform and perform duties that may put their lives on the line. The VA website expresses the day as a "celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good."

Across the nation, people will observe the federal holiday in their own manner. Regardless, my hope is that all Americans, uniformed or not, stand to recognize the sacrifices of those who made America the place it is today.
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