Happy Veterans Day from the Gatlinburg Daily Post!

Today, November 17, 2017, is Veterans Day! The day is used as a celebration of the service of Veterans across our nation. This holiday has a vast and varied past, but is stark in the history and foundations of America.

Veterans Day originally began in 1918, with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in France. The holiday was originally called Armistice Day to celebrate the cease fire of fighting following the devastation of the First World War. Although the signing occurred on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the fighting would not cease until months later, well into the following year.

The holiday would see its first resolution of observance by Congress in 1926. It was agreed that on November 11th at 11 am all business would stop and celebrations of Veterans Day would begin. The day was originally celebrated with parades and parties in several towns across the United States. President Eisenhower would change the name of the day from Armistice Day to Veterans Day officially in 1954.

Just to clear up any confusion, Veterans Day is not the same thing as Memorial or Labor Day. Veterans Day is a day to celebrate and pay tribute to all American veterans, living or dead. Memorial Day, on the other hand, pays tribute to fallen American veterans, and Labor Day celebrates the symbolism of the American workforce.

Today in the United States, there are more than 16.1 million living veterans that have served in at least one war. 5.2 million Veterans in the United States have served in some fashion during peacetime. There are currently 2 million women veterans in America. Lastly, of the 16 million Americans who served during World War Two, an estimated 558,000 are still alive.

So, how can I celebrate Veterans Day within my community? First and foremost, thank someone that you know that has served or is currently serving in a branch of the armed forces; they will appreciate it far more than you realize. Also, if they are older, ask them about their stories of the past. It is also a great help to serve a family that might have someone away on active duty. Ask if you can prepare a meal or look after the kids for a couple of hours one afternoon, if you know them. Several area and national restaurant chains and businesses will celebrate the holiday by giving veterans a discount on their meals or products. Treat the veterans in your life to an afternoon or evening meal as a small thank you for their service.

Take today to honor and recognize the veterans in our communities. They have given the ultimate sacrifice of living and serving for their county far away from the comforts of home and their families. To the veterans and active service members in our community, we wish to say a well-deserved thank you. Happy Veteran’s Day from all of us at the Gatlinburg Daily Post.

Source: Elizabeth Lane, Gatlinburg Daily Post Staff Writer