Opinion: Honoring our veterans

Chloe Fishman, Author

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People look forward to a random day with no work and no school as extra time to relax. It seems that Palo Alto High School teachers and students are making plans to adventure with friends, get ahead on work or spend the day watching Netflix. But why do we have this day off? Let’s not forget the importance and austerity behind the true meaning of Veterans Day.

World War I officially ended in June of 1919. However, the horrific fighting actually stopped after an armistice was signed by the Allied nations and Germany months earlier. Guess when this armistice went into effect.  The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month  the beginning of Veterans Day as we know it today.

In November of 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed that Nov. 11 should be forevermore revered as Armistice Day. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, President Wilson said, “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”

The name changed after World War II in which the largest amount of soldiers, marines and airmen were deployed in national history. Since then, Nov. 11 was officially renamed to Veterans Day to commemorate all American veterans who represented their country in a time of war.

So let’s stop complaining that Veterans Day falls on a Tuesday this year and that we didn’t have Monday off as well. Veterans Day should not be about the long weekend. It should be about remembering and honoring those who have committed and given their lives in the name of our country.

Yesterday the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Robert McDonald, announced a major restructuring of the VA department. These plans come in response to an incident that left over a hundred thousand veterans waiting painstakingly long for access to healthcare, according to CNN. Veterans, even with their hard work for our country, often fall through the cracks of employment or healthcare when they return home.

Yes, it is nice to have a day off. However, we should not ignore the true intent behind this day in history. I encourage all to take a break from catching up on their favorite shows or doing homework on Tuesday to be thankful for those who have dedicated their lives to protect ours. Don’t just take this free time for granted, because the soldiers we commemorate did not always have that luxury.