Honoring Veterans

Bangor Daily News, 11/10/19

In 1918, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the armistice that brought an end to the fighting in the “War to End All Wars” finally took effect, but not soon enough to prevent the deaths of tens of millions of people, 550 of them Mainers.

Ever since that day, now 101 years ago, we have called November 11th “ Armistice Day,” and since 1954 we set aside the Monday nearest to it as the official holiday of “Veterans Day.”

Nearly eight score years ago, on Nov. 19 of 1863, President Abraham Lincoln gained immortality when he spoke over the graves of Union soldiers at the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery at Gettysburg. Among them lay the bodies of more than 100 Mainers.

A few days after his speech, Lincoln declared that the fourth Thursday of November would be a national day of thanksgiving for the Union victory at Gettysburg and that it should be celebrated as a national holiday every year afterward.

And so it was that our annual Thanksgiving Day was set to a specific date and declared a national holiday on behalf of those who sacrificed their lives to preserve the Union.

Whether we pause on Armistice Day, Veterans Day or Thanksgiving Day to honor those who have given what Lincoln called “the last full measure of devotion” to their country, their families and their hometowns, it is, as he said, “altogether fitting and proper that we do this.”

Sen. Kimberly Rosen

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