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Veteran’s Day is an opportunity to honor those who sacrificed for our freedom

By JIMMY HIGDON
14th District State Senator

Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019 — Every Nov. 11 Americans observe Veterans Day to honor the millions of men and women who have served, or are serving, in the nation’s armed forces. No holiday says “America” the way Veterans Day does. We celebrate not just our freedom, independence and democracy, but the sacrifices made to achieve them.

SEN. JIMMY HIGDON

But do you know the whole story behind Veteran’s Day?

For starters, it wasn’t originally called Veterans Day. It was known as Armistice Day, and it commemorated the truce signed between the Allies and Germany in World War I on the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. The first Armistice Day in the U.S. was observed on Nov. 11, 1919. All business was suspended for two minutes starting at 11 a.m. and parades and public gatherings were held to commemorate the occasion.

Later, America also began honoring its unknown soldiers on Armistice Day, a tradition that continues to this day. At 11 a.m. every Veterans Day a color guard ceremony represents all branches of the military at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery. In 1954, the name was changed to Veterans Day following a national campaign to have the day honor all veterans and not just those who served in World War I.

Do you know for seven years Veterans Day was observed in October? In 1968, Congress moved Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. In 1975, President Gerald Ford returned Veterans Day to Nov. 11 due to the date’s historical significance.

Do you know the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day? Both holidays honor those men and women who have served in the nation’s armed forces, but Memorial Day honors America’s war dead while Veterans Day honors all American veterans.

Do you know the U.S. Census Bureau estimates there are about 19.2 million living military veterans in the United States? About 302,000 of those veterans live right here in Kentucky, according to the most recent data available from the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs.

And do you know that just inside the main entrance to the state Capitol there is a bronze plaque recognizing Kentucky’s 60 Medal of Honor recipients? This plaque calls attention to the 59 men and one woman who received America’s highest award for valor in action. Medal recipients – like most all veterans – generally prefer the focus to be placed elsewhere. That’s because they neither compete for the medal nor win it. They earn it with blood, courage and concern for their fellow soldiers with little concern for their own safety.

So this Veteran’s Day say “thanks” to some of the millions of men and women who have served our country. One way to do that is to attend one of the many Veterans Day ceremonies held across Kentucky. Here are just a few of the ceremonies taking place in the communities I represent:

  • 1 p.m. Nov. 8 at Marion County High School in Lebanon, hosted by ROTC.
  • 2 p.m. Nov. 10 at Lebanon National Cemetery.
  • 4 p.m. Nov. 10 at Veterans Memorial in Jeffersontown.
  • 11 a.m. Nov. 11 at City Hall in New Haven.
  • 11 a.m. Nov. 11 at the Veterans Wall in Liberty.
  • 11 a.m. Nov. 11 at the City Park in Bloomfield.
  • 11 a.m. Nov. 11 at My Old Kentucky Home State Park in Bardstown.

Before I end, I want to say thank you again to those who have sacrificed their time, health and lives. May we pray for those who now serve at home, overseas and in harm’s way. Let us remember that freedom isn’t free, independence isn’t forever and democracy isn’t for the faint of heart.

Sen. Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon, represents the 14th District that encompasses Casey, Marion, Nelson and Spencer counties as well a portion of Jefferson County including Fern Creek and Jeffersontown. He can be reached by calling his office in Frankfort at 502-564-8100, his home in Lebanon at 270-692-6945 or emailing him at senatorhigdon@gmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @SenatorJimmy.

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