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Remember to honor and thank our veterans

Everyone knows that November is the time of year to be thankful.

What we may not realize, though, is that there are multiple occasions throughout the month when it is appropriate to express our gratitude.

Monday will be one of those days.

Monday is Veterans Day — a federal holiday observed each year on Nov. 11. It is a time set aside to appreciate all of the men and women who have served or are currently serving in the nation’s military, regardless of whether they serve in times of war or peace or at home or overseas.

The holiday has its origins in World War I, which ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919 in France. The fighting had actually ended seven months earlier, though, when an armistice took effect at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month — 11 a.m. Nov. 11, 1918.

One year later, President Woodrow Wilson declared the first national observance of Armistice Day on Nov. 11, 1919. He said the occasion would be filled with pride at the “heroism of those who died in the country’s service.” The day was filled with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m., according to the Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs.

An act of Congress in May 1938 made the date an official legal holiday — “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day,'” primarily in honor of WWI veterans.

Later, in 1954, the 1938 act was amended to remove the word “Armistice” and insert the word “Veterans” in order to also honor those who served during WWII and Korea, as well as other conflicts. That same year, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued a proclamation stating: “In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans’ organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose.”

For a few years Veterans Day was observed on a Monday, regardless of whether it fell on Nov. 11, so that federal employees could have a three-day weekend to celebrate. But that led to confusion and objections from several states, so the holiday was returned to its original date.

Today, patriotic themes mark the observance. Many schools, churches, communities and organizations hold ceremonies and celebrations in honor of the nation’s veterans. Not only are those events opportunities to express appreciation to those who have served for their sacrifices, but they also serve as chances to educate children about love of country and willingness to serve.

Some events of this type already have been taking place locally. Already on Saturday, the Ohio River Valley Elks 231 in Martins Ferry held a Veterans Day dinner where veterans wereserved for free.

Today at 1 p.m., the Martins Ferry Recreation Center on Fourth Street is the site of a ceremony that will include music by the Martins Ferry High School band, refreshments and a speaker, Scott Boehm, who is a senior intelligence adviser for Overseas Contingency Operations Department of Defense Inspector General.

Following the Rec Center service, the Liberty VFD station, 500 Center St., Martins Ferry, will give veterans free hot dogs and hamburgers.

Bethlehem Apostolic Temple in North Wheeling is hosting its annual “Honoring Our Heroes” event during the temple’s regular 10:30 a.m. service today.

On Monday, Veterans Day assembly are set to be held at many area schools. One takes place at 8 a.m. at Martins Ferry High School and another follows that morning at Ayers Elementary School in Martins Ferry.

Union Local High School will host a similar event at 8 a.m.

Country Club Rehabilitation Campus in Bellaire will thank all veterans at 12:30 p.m. Monday with a flag ceremony at the Bellaire VFW, located at 3154 Belmont St. in Bellaire. Following the flag ceremony, a Veterans Parade will be held inside the Country Club Rehabilitation Campus starting at 2 p.m. The campus is located outside Bellaire at 55801 Conno Mara Drive.

These are just a few of the events taking place. In addition to such activities, many area restaurants are offering free meals to veterans on Monday.

So, I urge each of you to take advantage of these opportunities and participate in one or more of these events.

Regardless of whether you know any veterans personally, you can be sure that each of them made some sacrifice that ultimately benefited you and your family.

So, today or Monday, put your hand on your heart, sing a patriotic song or say a simple “thank you” to someone who has served. You may not realize it, but your gratitude will go a long way.

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