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Veterans Day celebrates land of free, home of brave

An overview of Veterans Day

Posted: November 11, 2009 11:33 a.m.
Updated: November 11, 2009 12:55 p.m.

Arlington National Cemetery is the home to thousands of American Soldiers who died in the line of duty.

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In the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month (Nov. 11), 1918, the Allied powers signed a cease-fire agreement with Germany at Rethondes, France, bringing World War I to a close. 

Armistice Day was declared a national holiday in 1938.

In 1954, President Eisenhower changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day and called on all Americans to "solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us re-consecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain."

Fifty-five years later, we continue to honor those brave Americans who have served our nation in uniform; some 48 million men and women whose service spans our history - from the War for Independence to the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Veterans Day also comemorates the more than 1.1 million patriots who died while in military service to America.

Every year, Americans visit the graves of their loved ones, participate in moments of silence, salute the flag, and pledge to continue to fight for freedom. A great way to celebrate the day is to thank a veteran for their brave services protecting our country. 

President Abraham Lincoln perhaps said it best in his Gettysburg address: "It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.

"It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion, that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain."

Signal Intern Emily Philpot contributed to this story.




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