Regrettably, several of our national holidays have been corrupted over the years by commercialism and a focus on leisure and pleasure.
In many households, Thanksgiving is more about Black Friday deals than being grateful for what we already have. Memorial Day is often viewed as just a jump-start to summer, and Labor Day is the last hurrah. Presidents Day is all about the sales.
Nothing against shopping or finding time to relax, but it is a shame when so many Americans forget to pay attention to why these special days were set aside in the first place.
Friday is Veterans Day, and we encourage people to treat it with the dignity it deserves.
Coming on the heels of a divisive presidential election, Veterans Day this year provides an opportune time to remember that America is a country worth fighting for, and that we have our veterans to thank for our safety.
This is the national holiday where we honor those who served — or who are still serving — in the military during wartime or peacetime. It is primarily intended to thank all living veterans for their service.
According to the official U.S. government website on Veterans Day, the commemoration is an opportunity to “acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served — not only those who died — have sacrificed and done their duty.”
Originally, Veterans Day was observed as Armistice Day and marked the end of World War I. Legislation was passed in 1938 designating Nov. 11 as the new national holiday dedicated to honoring those World War I veterans.
Then in 1954, President Eisenhower signed a proclamation changing the name of the holiday to Veterans Day to honor everyone who served in the armed forces — especially those who fought during World War II and the Korean War.
Since then, Veterans Day has managed to keep true to its purpose. Most schools in the Tri-Cities will hold Veterans Day assemblies. Students will honor veterans with songs and essays and applause. West Richland held its Veterans Day parade last Saturday, and there will be other ceremonies planned around the Mid-Columbia this weekend.
That’s as it should be.
There was a time when Veterans Day risked becoming just another extended weekend for most folks. The Uniform Monday Holiday Act was signed into law in 1968 and moved several national holidays, including Veterans Day, to a Monday in order to give federal employees a three-day weekend.
Veterans Day was moved to the fourth Monday in October. The change, however, did not go over well with veterans’ groups and many communities. This resistance eventually led to Veterans Day being returned to Nov. 11.
Those who pushed to keep the original date were smart. We should never take our veterans for granted, and keeping the true date helps reinforce the reason the holiday was established in the first place.
As it happens, this year, Veterans Day creates a three-day weekend for many people. But we hope they see beyond their extended break and remember why they are getting the day off. We should never forget about those who gave so much so the rest of us can live in freedom.
So to our veterans, we at the Tri-City Herald say thank you. Your patriotism, courage and commitment to our country is an example for us all.