HISTORY OF VETERAN’S DAY: HOW IT DIFFERS FROM MEMORIAL DAY
As we celebrate Veterans Day, we express gratitude for those who have served in the Armed Services. Its roots go back to World War I and Remembrance Day or Armistice Day, commemorating the signing of the Armistice following the War on 11:11:11, the 11th hour of 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. I write about its origin in WWI in more detail here.
It differs from Memorial Day whose history goes back to the American Civil War and the original observance of Decoration Day, wherein people honored those who died in service to their country. You can read about it here.
Today, I thank those who serve and have served in our Armed Service. A grateful nation honors you. In particular, I am grateful to my father Staff Sergeant John Petro who served in the US Army Infantry during World War II. He twice crossed paths with the notable “Band of Brothers” Easy Company first at the Battle of the Bulge and later toward the end of the war in Munich at the liberation of the Dachau Concentration Camp. Those were the only two stories he told me about his service; I wish he had told me more. I captured it on a tribute page on my blog. He came home from the War, married and started a family. He worked as a tinsmith, a bar owner, and a commercial realtor.
I love to hear veterans’ stories. I have a buddy who was an Air Force pilot who tells me exciting stories. I’ve received hundreds of emails from people all over the world after my father’s story was featured on the original HBO Band of Brothers website.
Do this on Veterans Day: find a veteran. If you see one at lunch, pay for their meal. Ask him or her to tell you one story about their service. It will honor them. And it will keep the memory alive another generation.
Never was so much owed by so many to so few. –Winston Churchill
Bill Petro, son of John Petro