We celebrate Veterans Day on a Thursday this year, in cheerful (or reverent) defiance of the modern mania for leeching holidays of anything resembling historical significance in favor of enthusiasm for three-day weekends. It is altogether fitting and proper — and a tribute to veterans and those who support them — that we do so.
Originally, of course, it was Armistice Day, celebrating the end — at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 — of what was then called the Great War and is now called World War I. The first observance came in 1921, when a soldier from that war, “known only to God,” was buried with full honors at Arlington National Cemetery overlooking the Potomac. In 1926 Congress made it a national holiday.
In 1954 the name was changed to Veterans Day to honor all those who fought or died in this country’s wars. In 1968 Congress decided to celebrate Veterans Day on the last Monday in October. After a quiet but persistent campaign from veterans’ groups, Congress thought better of the innovation and returned the holiday to a day with historic resonance.
The Great War, of course, did not turn out to be the “war to end all wars,” nor did World War II eliminate the threat of tyranny from the world. The current war is unlikely to mark the final triumph of democratic institutions throughout the world. The politicians who decide issues of war and peace are fallible human beings.
That fact, however, takes nothing from the courage and nobility American soldiers have shown when they answered their country’s call.
Clovis will honor area veterans on Saturday with the annual Veterans Parade, set for 10 a.m. on Main Street.
We salute our veterans and encourage Americans to continue to pray for the safety of our military personnel today.