Wednesday is the official Veterans Day. It occurs on Nov. 11 because World War 1 ended officially on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.

A year later, President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed "Armistice Day" to occur on Nov. 11.

Locally, Veterans Day was observed on Sunday with the annual Carbon County Veterans Day parade and a special Veterans Day dedication ceremony at the World War II Memorial Garden in Coaldale. On Saturday, veterans were honored in a parade in Tamaqua.

For these events, it was a blessed day for veterans. The weather was beautiful and attendance at both events was impressive.

At the Veterans Day parade, it was great to see not only veterans participating, but a lot of young people. Every high school band in Carbon County marched in the parade.

There were scores of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts from several communities in the line of march.

The Lansford UVO hosted the parade and did a commendable job.

At the Coaldale ceremony, military veterans were among the speakers in a setting that was designed by one of their own, William Gaddes of Lake Hauto, a Korean War veteran.

Dedicated was a Womens Memorial Garden Wishing Well, which a speaker said was "a fitting tribute to all women, not only those who served, but those who loved, supported, and prayed for the safe return of loved ones from harm's way."

Armistice Day for World War I veterans was observed until the early 1950s.

In 1953, an Emporia, Kansas shoe store owner named Al King had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans, not just those who served in World War I.

He began a campaign to have Armistice Day be renamed "All" Veterans Day. The Emporia Chamber of Commerce took up the cause after determining that 90 percent of Emporia merchants as well as the Board of Education supported closing their doors on November 11, 1953, to honor veterans.

A bill for the holiday was pushed through Congress and President Dwight Eisenhower signed it into law on May 26, 1954.

Veterans Day is an important holiday. Unlike Memorial Day which honors veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice, Veterans Day is a way of saying "thanks" to living veterans.

We must never forget the sacrifices they made for our freedoms.

By Ron Gower

rgower@tnonline.com