This year marks the Centennial Commemoration of "the war to end all wars", proclaimed by President Woodrow Wilson recognizing the end of WWI on November 11th at 11AM, 1918. It began as a day of reflection with peace, pride and justice and grew to become a legal holiday in 1938 dedicating the day to the "cause of world peace". Then, thanks to the driving force of WWII Navy Veteran Raymond Weeks, the esteem significance of this day became a day to "honor American veterans of ALL wars" and was celebrated with the first Veterans Day parade in 1947 Birmingham, Alabama. This nationalistic action led President Eisenhower in 1954 to officially change the designation of Armistice Day to a federal holiday, which we now celebrate as Veterans Day.
The historical reference of this abbreviated timeline gains meaning for me year after year as I listen to my father reflect and share stories from the generations upon generations who have served and fought for my freedoms. He talks about the positive, the strength and the beliefs of my great, great grandfathers and why they served all those years ago and then why he served. I've learned about the challenges, the sacrifices and how their service was not in vein. I get the chance to spend time with my dad and hear the narrative comedy of unique experiences and watch him reminisce over old photos. In a day and time when patriotism is a confusing place for many, his stories give me a sense of pride.
If we don't continue to share their stories and honor their sacrifices, today's generation and one's to come will not understand the freedoms we enjoy, the rights we cherish and what it was truly like for our veterans who served. In many cases, soldiers do not wish to discuss what they've been through with their family or friends because they don't want to burden others with the truth of what they've seen or done. Veterans Day allows them to release emotions they've kept to themselves and a chance to meet up with old friends and share the memories. I may not have served in the military, but it is a part of my family identity. Taking the time to show gratitude, asking a veteran about their story, or just listening and being there honors them on this day, and everyday to follow. My dad shares stories because to him Veterans Day is a day to remember everyone who has worn that uniform and the generations of honor in our nation's history.
In Rutherford County, we understand the significance of Veterans Day and our Salute to Veterans celebration is a time of storytelling, of connecting and of remembrance. We reflect on what the servicemen and servicewomen of this country have done to provide us citizens with peace and safety, commend those who wear the uniform, past and present, and spend time saying Thank You. I want to personally ask you to set aside an hour of your day this year and be a part of this event. It is a powerful celebration that will reignite your American Pride and warm your heart for years to come.
The annual Salute to Veterans is a free community event held each year, organized by the various veterans groups throughout Rutherford County, to give the public an opportunity to honor our veterans, exhibit their commitment to support our veterans and to give our veterans a chance to reflect. Mark your calendars for Saturday, November 10, 2018 and join us at RS Middle School at 9:30 am as we remind ourselves of how important service is, how selfless veterans are, and how fortunate we are to have them. A special ceremony will be conducted featuring every branch of the military, followed by food, military vehicles on display, artwork from local students showing what our Veterans mean to them and an appearance by the Rutherfordton Police and Fire Departments. A representative from the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation will be onsite collecting new, unwrapped toys in support of their mission to distribute toys to children whose parents cannot afford to buy them gifts for Christmas. Join us as we celebrate and show tribute to our local heroes.