Nov. 11, 2017, will be 99 years that Veterans Day has been observed in some form. The holiday has gone through changes over the years before it became the holiday we know today.
According to va.gov, in November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day.
“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 things 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…,” Wilson said.
Nov. 11 became the national holiday known as Armistice Day beginning in 1938 but in 1954, Armistice was replaced with the word veterans to honor all veterans, living or dead, not just veterans who served in World War I. In 1968, a bill was passed to move Veterans Day to be celebrated on a Monday every year in October. The new date was so confusing, according to va.gov, that President Gerald R. Ford moved it back to Nov. 11 in 1975. It wasn’t until 1978 that Veterans Day was celebrated on its original date of Nov. 11.
“The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to Nov. 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.”
Many veterans call Frederick home; one of whom is in charge of the Frederick chapter of the Disabled American Veterans. Buddy Shook served in the United States Navy from 1983-86. He served as a third class Petty Officer aboard the U.S.S. Robinson.
“I loved serving on a ship,” Shook said. I got to go places I’d never seen before.”
Shook also said he loves the Veterans Day event at the high school because he loves seeing veterans get the recognition they deserve.
Ralph Heap is a local World War II veteran. He explained in a previous interview with the Press-Leader that he was a Sergeant and served as a crew chief. His job was to load and prepare all bombs dropped by the 722nd Squadron. He also had to detonate all unexploded bombs from cancelled missions.
“The military today is completely different than the military was in my day,” Heap said. “Insofar as they told us when we were fighting the Germans that the quicker and the more we could kill, the quicker we could get home. That was our object. There were over 16 million men in arms during World War II spread all over the world.
“I was in Europe. The war ended in Europe May the eighth, 1945,” he continued. “The United States was going to be shipped over to the Pacific after spending a couple weeks training on B-29s. We were on B-24’s in Europe.”
Heap received two Bronze Stars and two Presidential Unit Citations for his service. He was also an honored guest at Summer Jump School where he was able to pin the wings on a jump school graduate.
Major General Marshall Scantlin was in the 82nd Airborne Division during the Vietnam War. He is scheduled to speak at the Frederick High School Veterans Day assembly slated for 10 a.m. Nov. 10.
Frederick City Manager Robert Johnston served in the United States Marines from 1973-77.
“I came home from Falls Creek Church Camp and went straight to boot camp,” Johnston said. “I’d encourage all my fellow veterans to participate in this event at the high school. It’s a very good thing that the high school sponsors every year. Very good recognition of those who chose to take the oath and were willing to serve our country, whether recently or not so recently. Frederick has a great military heritage with the air base here during World War II.”
When it comes to honoring veterans, Frederick gets it right. Not only are veterans honored by the Airborne Demonstration Team, they are honored at various places throughout the year as guest speakers and at events such as the Veterans Day assembly held by the high school.
Frederick High School students placed flags on the graves of veterans on Saturday at the Frederick Cemetery to honor the veterans who are no longer with us.
Reach Kathleen Guill at 580-379-0588, ext. 2602.