Local ceremonies, parades and celebrations designed to thank the military servicemen and women who have given so much to our country are held in cities across the United States.
Originally called “Armistice Day,” Veterans Day was originally organized to serve as a reminder to nations to always strive for peaceful relationships. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs explains in their “Origins of Veterans Day” that ceremonies to bury an unknown soldier in some of Europe’s highest places of honor (Westminster Abbey in England, the Arc de Triomphe in France) took place on November 11, 1918 (on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month) to mark the end of World War I, “the war of all wars.” The day became known as “Armistice Day.” In the United States, an unknown WWI soldier was buried in Arlington National Cemetery in 1921, becoming a point of reverence for America’s veterans.
The first celebration to use the term “Veterans Day” took place on November 11, 1947, in Birmingham, Alabama. The event was organized by Raymond Weeks, a World War II veteran, and included a parade and other festivities to honor local veterans. Congress passed a bill signed by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1954 proclaiming November 11 as Veterans Day. Weeks went on to receive the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Ronald Reagan in November 1982.
Today local ceremonies, parades and celebrations designed to thank the military servicemen and women who have given so much to our country are held in cities across the United States. While the dates vary in some places, one date that remains constant is November 11, when the Veterans Day National Ceremony commences precisely at 11:00 am at Arlington National Cemetery. A wreath is laid at the Tomb of the Unknowns followed by a celebration held in the Memorial Amphitheater to thank and honor all who have served in the United States Armed Forces.
According to the V.A. website, “Veterans Day is important and has great historical significance as well as patriotic value for many people in our country, and by marking the day annually, we affirm our national values of duty, honor, selflessness, civic responsibility, and passion for our country.”
A Veterans Day program is scheduled for Thursday, November 9 at 9:30am at the Two Mississippi Museums, located at 222 North Street in Jackson. The program will include a performance by the 41st Army Band, a moment of silence, and recognition of the veterans in attendance and of fallen heroes by Major General Janson D. Boyles—the Adjutant General of the Mississippi National Guard. A memorial volley and wreath laying will follow.
Sarah Warnock, director of Public Relations for the Two Mississippi Museums, says that free admission to the Museums will be offered to those currently serving in the military as well as a family member Thursday, November 9 through Saturday, November 11. Free parking for the Museums is available in the visitor parking garage located behind the Museums on Jefferson Street.
Ridgeland will be holding a Veterans Day ceremony on Saturday, November 11 at 11:00 am at the Veterans Memory Park, a dedicated space to the right of the front entrance of Ridgeland’s City Hall. The keynote speaker for the event will be Brigadier General Parker Hills, retired, Mississippi Army National Guard. The ceremony will include tolling of the bell, and Ridgeland High School’s ROTC color guard and choir will be on hand to present the colors and to sing patriotic songs, respectively.
Ridgeland’s City Hall is located at 235 West School Street.