Vaughn Hardacker here: There are two holidays that always seem to confuse a lot of people. One is Veterans Day (for many years known as Armistice Day) and Memorial Day while both honor our military veterans. They are not the same.
We celebrate it every year, but how did Veterans Day come into existence? It dates back to the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919. While this day will always be known as the official end of World War I, also known as The Great War, it was at the eleventh hour of the eleventh hour of November 1918 (it is for this reason the holiday is always celebrated on the 11th regardless of which day of the week it falls on), that the war truly came to an end when the armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities between German and the Allied Nations, went into effect. The following November in 1919, President Woodrow Wilson became known as the president who celebrated the first commemoration of Armistice Day. The name later changed following the Second World War and Korean War in November 1938 when it became the legal Federal Holiday we know and honor today, Veterans Day, which is dedicated to American veterans of all the wars.
People have honored the sacrifices of soldiers for as long as there have been wars, Memorial Day as we know it in the United States got its start during the American Civil War. As the conflict wound down, people across the North and South tried to honor fallen soldiers.
One such ceremony was held on May 1, 1865 in Charleston, South Carolina. Local all-black churches led a gathering of roughly ten thousand people, many of whom were former slaves, in properly reburying Union soldiers and holding a ceremony to honor their sacrifice and dedicate the new cemetery. The event included speeches, the laying of wreaths and crosses, drills performed by Union soldiers and even picnicking. However, it’s unclear if the event influenced any other such ceremonies in the country, so it remains ambiguous if it should actually be considered the first Memorial Day.The Birthplace(s) of Memorial Day. There are numerous places in the country that claim to have first celebrated Memorial Day a recurring holiday rather than a one-off event. Boalsburg, Pennsylvania claims that an 1864 gathering of women to mourn the deaths of soldiers at the Battle of Gettysburg makes it the founder of the holiday, while Carbondale, Illinois claims two markers in its cemeteries as well as a parade led by Major General John A. Logan (more on him in a moment) as proof that it held the first annual celebration. There’s even a Columbus, Georgia and Columbus, Mississippi with competing claims. While Waterloo,
New York eventually won federal recognition because of evidence that its celebrations involved the full closure of the town, it has well over 20 rivals for the title, and all of them — even Waterloo — rely on evidence that is at least somewhat disputed. There’s only one event that unambiguously served as a forerunner to Memorial Day.
A few years back there was a popular C&W song entitled Some Gave All and it too has been cause for confusion. The widely used phrase “All gave some, Some gave all.” is mostly related to the members of the United States military who were wounded or killed in action. You will probably hear it more often around Memorial Day every year, and its not for the Veterans Day. A lot of Americans get this confused, and we’ll be honest — it can be a little annoying to all of the living veterans out there.
Memorial Day is a time to remember those who gave their lives for our country, particularly in battle or from wounds they suffered in battle. Veterans Day honors all of those who have served the country in war or peace — dead or alive — although it’s largely intended to thank living veterans for their sacrifices.
The above pictures are used to illustrate my point. In the top photo I was a twenty-year-old Marine Corporal serving in Vietnam. The lower photos are of the purple heart medal awarded to my uncle, Vaughn L. Hardacker, a nineteen-year-old sergeant in the U. S. Army who was killed in action on August 15, 1944 (days short of his 20th birthday). I as a veteran, was willing to give . . . my uncle (and namesake) gave all (I possess this medal and every time I look at it I wonder how much more he should have given so that they could spell his last name correctly).
I have finally gotten to the point where I can accept someone saying, “Thank you for your service.” without becoming upset (a subject I dealt with in a blog a few years ago) and I make sure that I always remember that my uncle would have liked to be told that very thing … after all, he gave all. So always remember, it isn’t the politician who has given us the right to either like, or dislike the direction we perceive our nation taking. It was those who gave all that paid for our freedom. I for one was willing to put my life on the line so that we all have the freedom to believe what we want without being belittled and viewed as being of less intellect and of less worth by those who don’t like our politics or our religious beliefs–especially from those who were unwilling to put their lives on the line for freedom. I am speaking to all those people who have made a living as career politicians making large salaries (which most of them–regardless of party–do absolutely nothing to earn) and granting themselves benefits for life, not to mention protection from prosecution for doing things you or I would go to prison for–case in point if we lie to Congress we can be sent to prison. However, a congressman or woman, cannot be prosecuted for blatantly lying to Congress to push their own agenda. Remember, unlike many of our elected officials, our founding fathers were true public servants. The business of government was done during the winter because the rest of the year they had to remain at home to raise their crops and support their families. So, the next time you see a veteran, either successful in life, or standing beside the road holding a sign asking for help, remember. He or she was willing to give all.
The purpose of this rant is not to belittle or attack anyone, but more to make us think about how our veterans, both alive and those have passed on leaving their families emotionally and financially devastated must feel when they see the so-called dead-locked congress and are supposed to be happy when a politician passes a two or three percent pay increase while giving themselves a thirty percent or higher raise.