Veterans Day, November 11

~ By Ann Brandt ~

Veterans Day,  November 11, originated just after the end of World War I. It is said that the last shots were fired at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month; this gave the unchanging date of what originally was called Armistice Day. Many school children do not know this.

I remember years ago–as a school child–all the classes lined up in the hall and faced East for a minute of silence, remembering all those who lost their lives in The Great War. We faced east because that was the direction toward Europe where the fighting took place.  This solemn occasion was observed each year without fail. Patriotism was at an all-time high during my childhood, our nation fighting in a second world war.

Another tradition evolved from that war and is now a part of Memorial Day and, in some communities, Veterans Day; that is Poppy distribution. The story behind the poppy is now another facet of our history that much of the general public does not realize. In World War I poppies grew wild amid the ravaged landscape of Belgium. The little red flowers seemed to symbolize the blood spilled on those battlefields.

The  first nationally organized campaign for an annual distribution of paper poppies assembled by American disabled veterans took place in 1924. Today, the effort continues to provide a financial and therapeutic benefit to thousands of veterans and their families. Poppies are not sold, just distributed, with free will donations gratefully accepted.

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