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Veterans Day

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

It's a day to pay to tribute to those who have served and sacrificed for their country.

This Veterans Day sees U.S. troops facing danger in Iraq and Afghanistan.

President Bush signs two pieces of veterans-related legislation Tuesday. One doubles the tax-free death payment given to the families of fallen soldiers.

The other will help establish new national cemeteries in Alabama (Birmingham), Pennsylvania, Florida, California and South Carolina.

The bill requires the US Department of Veterans Affairs to designate a site by next year, and to open the cemetery within four years of becoming law.

The price tag for opening a new cemetery is estimated at $16 million.

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Origins of Veterans Day

  • In 1921, an unknown World War I American soldier was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. This site, on a hillside overlooking the Potomac River and the city of Washington, became the focal point of reverence for America's veterans.

  • Similar ceremonies occurred earlier in England and France, where an unknown soldier was buried in each nation's highest place of honor (in England, Westminster Abbey; in France, the Arc de Triomphe).

  • These memorial gestures all took place on Nov. 11, giving universal recognition to the celebrated ending of World War I fighting at 11 a.m., Nov. 11, 1918 (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month).

  • The day became known as "Armistice Day.” Armistice Day officially received its name in America in 1926 through a Congressional resolution.

  • It became a national holiday 12 years later by similar Congressional action. If the idealistic hope had been realized that World War I was "the War to end all Wars," November 11 might still be called Armistice Day. But, only a few years after the holiday was proclaimed, war broke out in Europe.

  • Sixteen and one-half million Americans took part. Four hundred seven thousand of them died in service, more than 292,000 in battle.

  • Realizing that peace was equally preserved by veterans of WW II and Korea, Congress was requested to make this day an occasion to honor those who have served America in all wars. In 1954, President Eisenhower signed a bill proclaiming Nov. 11 as Veterans Day.

  • The focal point for official, national ceremonies for Veterans Day continues to be the memorial amphitheater built around the Tomb of the Unknowns. At 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, a combined color guard representing all military services executes "Present Arms" at the tomb.

  • The nation's tribute to its war dead is symbolized by the laying of a presidential wreath. The bugler plays "taps." The rest of the ceremony takes place in the amphitheater.

Source: www.vfw.org Web site contributed to this report.


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