I’M BAAACK!!! Happy Veteran’s Day!

Hi everybody,

Guess who’s back from her ten day vacation?  Not a real vacation, just a break from writing.  I haven’t blogged since Halloween night, but I was quite busy while I was away.  Halloween was great!  I got lots of compliments on my costume and even more than that, I got lots of candy.  For the last week and a half, I’ve been going to school, doing homework, studying hard, taking tests, going to dance class, and rehearsing for The Nutcracker.  I got my first middle school report card, six A’s and one B.  The B was in Pre-Algebra.  It’s an honors class, so I am pretty proud of my grades, even the B cause Algebra is hard!  There was an election a week ago.  I’m too young to vote, obviously, but my parents, my grandmas, and my big sister all went and voted.  I went to a birthday party/sleepover for a friend that I’ve known since kindergarten.  She moved away a year ago, so we don’t go to the same school anymore, but we’re still close friends.  Now that I’ve updated you on what’s been happening in my life, I wanted to talk about what today is.  It’s a national holiday, which means that even though we had to go to school today, all the banks are closed and government offices too.  Also, the mail doesn’t deliver on national holidays.  My dad got the day off because where he works they are closed on all the national holidays. Today is Veteran’s Day.

History of Veterans Day  (courtesy of U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs)

AmericanFlag(Image courtesy of American-Culture-McWiki)

World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” – officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “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 original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m. The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926.

An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.” Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

WHY IS VETERANS DAY SO IMPORTANT?

“Why do we celebrate Veterans Day?”  I asked a couple of my dance friends and my family.  My friends told me, “I don’t know” or didn’t even try to give a valid answer.  My brother and sister both told me to go and look it up, while my parents spent what seemed like forever giving me facts about history in complete sentences.  My teachers say that it is important to celebrate veterans and we do in an assembly every November at school.  I just can’t help but think that something is missing from all those explanations about why celebrating veterans is so important.

I first wanted to make sure that I knew exactly what the word veteran really meant.  According to Dictionary.com, a veteran is defined as “a person who has served in a military force, especially one who has fought in a war.”  I found out that World War I, also known as “The Great War,” is the whole reason that we started celebrating Veterans Day, the purpose of which was to honor those who had risked their lives during the war.  Then I decided to look up some facts about the military, American history, and wars.  What I found out was pretty amazing!

The preamble of the United States Constitution states, “insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense.”  For the purposes of this essay, I want to talk about the part of the preamble that states “provide for the common defense.”  This means that the Constitution, which is the document that established the American government that exists today, also established the importance of the United States military.

The military made up of servicemen and women provide for the common defense of our country.  They are called on to fight in wars and conflicts all over the world.  They are the reason that America is free and the reason that we stay free.  In order to defend the principles upon which the country was founded, we need a military to protect our freedom.  The military also keeps peace around the world and defends other countries that we are friendly with that need our help fighting against other countries.  When this happens, neither the governor nor the president go to help fight.  The Supreme Court doesn’t even go to help fight.  It’s the American military that goes to help fight.

Once upon a time, men were drafted to go into the military, which means that they were sent off to fight by the government.  They had to serve their country, whether they wanted to or not.  That has now changed because there hasn’t been a draft since the Vietnam War, which ended in 1973.  Now, men and women enlist in the military.  To enlist means that you volunteer.  I think that it takes a special kind of person to enlist in the army, navy, air force, marines, or coast guard.  You may end up fighting in a war, so you know that you are risking your life when you sign up.

Another important thing that the military does is help other countries during natural disasters, by providing aid, medical attention, and rebuilding cities – like after the tsunami in Asia and earthquakes.  America is generous enough to send its military to help out and the people in the military have to leave their families to go and help people that they don’t even know.  Since becoming a country, America has been involved in about twenty-seven wars and conflicts.  In the first 100 years of America’s existence as a country, approximately 683,000 people in the military were killed in wars and conflicts.  The Civil War alone accounted for about 623,000 of them!  During the next 100 years, another approximately 626,000 people in the American military also died and this only takes us through World War II!  I found figures about the Afghanistan War and how many military people died through November 2012, and it is approximately another 102,000 people!  This means that a total of about 1,411,000 people died fighting for our country!  They sacrificed their lives and their families lost loved ones.

Finally, I want to say that in America we celebrate historic figures and important people, places, events, and organizations.  The military is an organization that is important to government and democracy.  The military is talked about in the Constitution.  How can we celebrate President’s Day, Columbus Day, the 4th of July, and Martin Luther King’s Birthday, and not celebrate the American military and our veterans?  In my opinion, the American military and veterans are no less important than the greatest historical figures and Presidents in American history and we would not exist as a country without our military and our veterans.  Thank you.

 MY TRIBUTE TO OUR VETERANS

Veteran medals tell a story of service that veterans earned during their military service.
Everyone who flies an American flag can show their patriotism.
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a memorial to the American dead of World Wars I and II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
Every year Americans celebrate Veterans Day on November 11th.
Remembrance Day is held in other countries to honor those who died fighting for their respective country.
Arlington National Cemetery is the largest veteran cemetery in the United States.
No one will forget the sacrifices made by our veterans and their families.
Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 (GI Bill) provided unemployment, education allowances and loans for millions of WWII veterans.

Department of Veteran Affairs is the executive department of the U.S. government dedicated to serve our veterans.
Armistice Day was originally changed to Veterans Day to honor those who served in World War II and the Korean War. Today, we honor all veterans regardless of when they served.
You Veterans rock because you served in the United States armed forces!

Happy Memorial Day!

This weekend both of my parents took my grandmas (my dad’s mom and my mom’s mom) to visit the cemetery and put flowers on the graves of our relatives.  My parents have been married for almost fifteen years and they didn’t know each other when they were little, but their relatives are buried in the same cemetery.  It’s even more of a coincidence because they are buried like almost right next to each other.  When my dad goes to his dad’s grave it is like 50 feet away from my mom’s grandma’s grave.  Anyway, I rode with my mom and we put flowers on everybody’s grave.  This year it was pink carnations.  My mom has a lot of relatives in the cemetery because her granny had ten brothers and sisters.  My dad only has a few people there.  When I asked my parents why we celebrate Memorial Day and go to the cemetery they said that Memorial Day was really created to visit the graves of veterans or people who died in war, not just to go visit the grave of anybody who had died.  But, over time the holiday morphed like so many things do, and now people use Memorial Day as a time to visit the graves of all of their loved ones who have died.

When we got home, I looked it up on the Internet.  This is what I learned.  Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day.  It was a day of remembrance for those who had died in military service to the United States of America.  Over two dozen cities and towns claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, but Waterloo, NY was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon B. Johnson in May 1966.  There is conflicting information about the origins of Memorial Day, but what everybody does agree with is that Memorial Day was created out of a desire of people to honor the Civil War dead.  Its purpose was to spread flowers and decorate the graves of soldiers who died in defense of our country.  On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.

Since that time, Memorial Day is used to decorate the graves of all people, not just those who died in war.  It is also a holiday that gives people a three day weekend and marks the beginning of summer.  People barbecue and go to the lake and do outdoor stuff.  At my house, we have a family tradition and my dad makes his famous gumbo.  He makes gumbo on Labor Day too.  Today we had gumbo and crab cake sandwiches.  It was delish!  I also made a Memorial Day craft using four paper plates.  Take a look.

DSCF0549

This 3-dimensional star is made from 2 stars that are interlaced. Once complete, the star stands by itself on a table, and makes a great patriotic decoration.

Supplies:

  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Stiff paper like card stock, decorative paper plate or thin cardboard.
  • Scissors
  • Crayons or markers (if decorative paper or paper plate is not used)

Two paper stars are needed to make one 3-dimensional star.

Decorate the two stars on both sides, then cut them out. If you use decorative paper or paper plates, you’ll need four of each. Draw the stars, cut them out and paste the white sides together to get a print on each side of the stars. Make one slit in each star. On one star, the slit goes from an inner corner to the center point of the star; on the other star, the slit goes from an outer corner to the center point.

DSCF0528DSCF0529DSCF0530DSCF0534

Slip the two stars together through the slits you just cut. For stability, you may have to tape the stars a bit where they meet at the slits.

DSCF0537 DSCF0538DSCF0542

You now have a great three-dimensional star decoration that stands by itself on a table.