Originally Published: November 5, 2016 5:59 a.m.
Military veterans will be honored and thanked for their service to America in special patriotic worship services on Sunday, Nov. 13, at Prescott Community Church, 3151 Willow Creek Road. All veterans are invited to attend either the 9:15 a.m. Connections Contemporary Worship or the 10:45 a.m. Classic Traditional Worship.
Veterans Day, observed as a national holiday each year on Nov. 11, has a rich history as the anniversary of the end of World War I. The Great War, WW I, officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919. However, fighting had ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, a temporary cessation of hostilities, went into effect between the allied nations and Germany on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Nov. 11, 1918, therefore is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”
One year later on November 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first commemoration of Armistice Day, saying in part, “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 nations.”
In 1938 Congress called for Armistice Day to be a legal holiday, “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace” and observed in churches and schools. Congress declared that the recurring Nov. 11 anniversary should be commemorated with thanksgiving, prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through goodwill and mutual understanding between nations.
Seven years later, in 1945, World War II veteran Raymond Weeks from Birmingham, Alabama had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans, not just those who had died in World War I. Weeks led a delegation to propose the idea to then General Dwight Eisenhower, who supported the idea of a National Veterans Day. Weeks led the first national celebration in 1947 in Alabama and annually until his death in 1985. Weeks was honored by President Reagan at the White House with the Presidential Citizenship Medal in 1982 as the driving force for the national holiday and as the “Father of Veterans Day.”
Armistice Day officially became “Veterans Day” by an act of Congress in 1954, changing its purpose and scope. General Eisenhower was by then President Eisenhower and he called on the nation to remember the sacrifices of those who fought in all our nation’s wars, to celebrate the contributions of all veterans of military service, and to rededicate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace. It is Eisenhower’s call that remains the three-fold purpose of Veterans Day: remembering those who fought and died, celebrating all veterans and promoting an enduring peace.
Please see pccaz.org for more information about the special worship services to honor all veterans at Prescott Community Church on Sunday, Nov. 13.