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November 9, 2005

The annual observance of Veterans Day on November 11 of each year was not started as a means of honoring the brave young men who died in American wars. Many of them did perish during that period, and certainly we should remember them. As I understand it, the origin had to do with honoring all the noble dead, not just those from a particular war. Memorial Day came close to serving that purpose, but it was slightly off the desired mark. Then came the end of World War I on November 11, 1918, and Armistice Day marked that event. It also launched the date as the first Armistice Day.

The date was selected as a means of honoring the Americans who died in World War I, although that name had not been selected for the engagement at the time of the date's choice. Now, we use Veterans Day to salute all American dead, including service men and women, and it is an appropriate time to do just that. I knew some of those who did not survive the ordeal of battle in any of the great wars that have involved our young men and women, and I believe they would agree that Veteran's Day is an appropriate salute.

Veterans Day is about as universal a celebration as you are likely to see in this country. So, yes, go ahead and unfurl the red, white and blue on your own flag holder. Just be sure the flag is retrieved at night with proper solemnity, unless a spotlight shines on the flag.

Many people still have questions about Veterans Day, and this is not an attempt to answer all of them. Maybe it will help your understanding. At least that is the goal here. Let us know if you are still uneasy about the whole thing.