The Origins of Veterans Day: A Brief Look into its Historical Background
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Veterans Day, a significant holiday in the United States, holds a rich historical background that is rooted in the aftermath of World War I. Originally known as Armistice Day, it commemorated the end of hostilities on November 11th, 1918, when an armistice was signed between the Allied nations and Germany. This cessation of fighting marked a turning point in history and brought an end to one of the deadliest conflicts humanity had ever witnessed.
Armistice Day was first observed on November 11th, 1919, exactly one year after the armistice was signed. It served as a solemn reminder of the sacrifices made by countless soldiers who fought bravely during World War I. The day was dedicated to honoring those who served in the armed forces and to express gratitude for their service and valor.
In 1938, Armistice Day became an official national holiday in the United States through an act of Congress. However, it wasn't until after World War II and the Korean War that there arose a need to recognize veterans from all wars.
The first celebration using the term Veterans Day occurred in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1947. Raymond Weeks, a World War II veteran, organized "National Veterans Day," which included a parade and other festivities, to honor all veterans. The event was held on November 11, then designated Armistice Day.
Later in 1954, U.S. Representative Edward Rees of Kansas proposed a bill that would change Armistice Day to Veterans Day. Congress passed the bill that President Eisenhower signed proclaiming November 11 as Veterans Day. President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day to honor veterans from all branches of the military. In 1982, Raymond Weeks received the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Ronald Reagan. Weeks' local parade and ceremonies are now an annual event celebrated nationwide.
Today, Veterans Day continues to be celebrated annually on November 11th with various ceremonies and events held across the country. It serves as a time for reflection and appreciation for those who have selflessly defended their nation's freedom throughout history.
The Importance of Supporting Veterans Beyond Veterans Day: Continuing the Appreciation All Year Round
Supporting veterans goes beyond just one day of recognition. It is important to continue the appreciation and support for our military service members throughout the entire year. Veterans Day serves as a reminder of their sacrifice and bravery, but it is crucial to remember that their needs do not end on that day.
By providing ongoing support and appreciation, we can ensure that veterans feel valued and respected for their service. This can be done through various means, such as volunteering at veteran organizations, advocating for improved healthcare and mental health services, or simply reaching out to a veteran in your community to express gratitude.
There are several local and national programs that have stood out in their work
Empowerment is based on the idea that giving Veterans the resources, opportunities, purpose, and motivation they need to become more productive in their communities, and this goes to their mission. ChicagoVeterans.org defines empower as sharing information and building meaningful relationships to help take control of one’s transition throughout life and their overall well-being.
They have Social & Community Programs and Transitional Programs.
To learn more, please feel free to visit their website: https://chicagovets.org/
Bob Woodruff Family Foundation
Mission: We ensure that our nation’s veterans, service members, and their families — those who stood for us — have stable and successful futures.
While reporting in Iraq in 2006, Bob Woodruff, journalist and co-anchor for ABC’s “World News Tonight.” vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb and he sustained a severe brain injury and was immediately sent to the Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland.
While there, his wife Lee met and formed relationships with other families dealing with traumatic brain injuries. On his road to recovery, Bob and his wife started the Bob Woodruff Family Foundation to support the troops, veterans, and their families.
Bob’s celebrity allows the foundation to spread the word about the specific needs of soldiers across the world. This foundation also works with and funds smaller nonprofits throughout the country to cover different ways to support these individuals and their families.
Services and support the foundation provides includes housing, legal services, food banks, and more, this veterans organization has programs that highlight fertility and other scientific issues affecting post-911 veterans.
In addition, the Bob Woodruff Family Foundation Veterans In Vitro InitiAtive (VIVA) program funds the unreimbursed costs veterans are stuck with when dealing with infertility treatments.
Bob Woodruff and his wife faced one of the worst possible outcomes of war; and to help the community they became a part of they started this military veterans nonprofit organization to support any army family as they face similar challenges. The foundation has taken Woodruff’s fame and put it to good use by supporting other nonprofits around the country.
Visit their website to learn more: https://bobwoodrufffoundation.org/
Gary Sinise Foundation
Mission: We serve our nation by honoring our defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need. We do this by creating and supporting unique programs designed to entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen, and build communities.
Famous for his role as Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump, Gary Sinise has been forming relationships with military service members in the United States for decades. The Academy-Award nominated actor, not to mention Illinois native, interest in veterans affairs began in the early 80s, way before his fame.
Similar to other veterans organizations, the Gary Sinise Foundation provides injured veterans and first responders with adapted homes and equipment, caregiver training, and mental healthcare through partnerships with other organizations. While their efforts here are admirable, the organization also focuses on something a little different from the rest.
The Gary Sinise Foundation regularly holds inspirational events to entertain, strengthen, and build strong communities of service members. Invincible spirit festivals take place with regular performances by Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band. In addition to supporting veterans, this organization actively engages with both current and former service members. By fostering connections among these individuals, it creates a strong network of support and camaraderie within the military community.
Also, the Serving Heroes program provides meals for active military across the world at military bases, transportation hubs, police departments, firehouses, and veterans senior living facilities.
Visit their website here to learn more: https://www.garysinisefoundation.org/
Operation Second Chance
Mission: We support Veterans and their families by building relationships and identifying and supporting immediate needs and interests. We are dedicated to promoting public awareness of the many sacrifices made by our Armed Forces
Operation Second Chance started in 2004 and serves veterans in Maryland, Virginia, and DC. Their founder, Cindy McGrew, took her personal experience working with injured vets at Walter Reed and turned it into a developing nonprofit.
This veterans nonprofit organization provides airfare for families to reach the hospital, providing a huge financial relief during a challenging period in the family’s life. In addition, it covers the vets’ monthly bills for the first months of recovery. As well as offering scholarships up to $2,500 per year for dependent children and spouses of injured vets.
Beyond proving financial assistance, Operation Second Chance volunteers visit injured soldiers at the hospital because of course being in the hospital can be lonely and boring. They bring food, activities, and games and do what they can to build lasting relationships when possible. These trips are also a big way the organization stands apart from others doing the same work.
Visit their website here to learn more: https://operationsecondchance.org/
Remembering and Thanking Our Club Members Who Have Sacrificed for Our Freedom
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Taking a moment to remember and express our gratitude on behalf of the International Press Club of Chicago, to our members that have served and all servicemen and women. These individuals have dedicated their time, energy, and even risked their lives in service of their country.
Their selflessness and unwavering commitment deserve our utmost appreciation. I extend a heartfelt thanks to all those who have served.
The origins of Veterans Day remind us not only of the sacrifices made by our brave servicemen and women but also highlight our respect and honor their legacy.
Interim President and Director of Communication
International Press Club of Chicago
I’m Ehren Muhammad,