This year the official observation of Veterans Day, in the beginning after World War I called Armistice Day, falls on Wednesday.
Unlike most of the official U.S. holidays, Veterans Day (like Independence Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day) falls on a certain date in the month. It does confuse many people of advanced age to have most official holidays observed on a Monday. The excuse given by members of the Congress when these changes were made was to allow government employees to have a four-day weekend.
For those of more recent generations, the Armistice to end that war was signed in a railroad car by the representatives of the nations involved “on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh Month” of 1919. It was after the end of World War II in 1945, officially on December 31, 1946, when the Congress in session changed the name to Veterans Day to recognize the efforts and sacrifices of those who were actually involved in the military forces or auxiliaries.
As one who was a non-combat participant in World War II in the Army Air Forces, the reviving of the observation of Veterans Day with parades, fireworks and other activities has been somewhat encouraging.
During and after the operations in Vietnam and the maltreatment of the veterans returning from those operations by nasty groups (who appeared to be well organized and financed by sources not known to me) was absolutely appalling. Some in my circle of acquaintances were so badly received back home that they refused to admit their participation.
In my own case, as one who did not experience actual combat (although trained to be a participant), it was my practice to stay out of the spotlight in deference to those who were kept in combat areas for many months, some even in POW camps where the treatment, especially in those of the Japanese, was from poor to abominable. Admittedly in some cases, the poor food and accommodations were unavoidable and similar to those of the captors.
It has been stated that the Veterans Day Parade in Tulsa is the second largest in the whole United States and it keeps being larger each year. Our World War II Vets of Tulsa club, newly renamed “All Veterans Association,” has been a participant for many years in this observance near the beginning of the parade.
The VFW Post on East 6th Street hosts a breakfast for the participants each year, with the organizing of parade order occurring before departure for the place of formation. After the parade the American Legion Post No. 1, first Legion Post in the nation, hosts a lunch, again for those veterans appearing in the parade.
There are some participants who seem to be going beyond the call. For several years there was a Pacific area army veteran who would walk the entire route carrying his M-1 rifle with a captured Japanese flag attached to the barrel. Unfortunately, age has taken its toll and last year he stated it would be his final march.
Each year we see more children present in whole classroom numbers along the parade route and they seem to be most eager and excited. This has been gratifying to those who are dedicated to their education about the truth of the privations experienced in combat, or even in the support and training positions.
It seems that very few of those alive now are aware that for every military person involved in World War II combat, there were nine in support, supply and training duties. We in the World War II Vets of Tulsa have been involved since the founding in 1977 in making appearances in schools (only by invitation) to educate the children on the truth of war, as we experienced.
It was a pleasant surprise to me to see the eager attentiveness the children have exhibited at these appearances. Their questions show a real interest in the subject.