The truce that ended the “war to end all wars” was signed on the morning of the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month of the year. November 11th has since become a day for all Americans to express our respect and appreciation for the men and women who have served in our armed services and have kept our Nation free.
by Congressman Michael Turner
Ninety years ago this month, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11th Armistice Day, to commemorate the first anniversary of the peace agreement between the Allied Powers and Germany that ended the First World War. The truce that ended the “war to end all wars” was signed on the morning of the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month of the year. November 11th has since become a day for all Americans to express our respect and appreciation for the men and women who have served in our armed services and have kept our Nation free.
Congress officially recognized Armistice Day as a legal holiday in 1938, with Europe on the threshold of a second world war. While Armistice Day was originally intended to honor the heroes of World War I, America’s subsequent involvement in World War II and the Korean conflict called to duty unprecedented numbers of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. Therefore, to recognize the contributions of all who have served and defended our Nation, President Dwight Eisenhower—a veteran of the First World War and the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during the Second World War—signed legislation formally designating November 11th as Veterans Day. President Eisenhower issued the first Veterans Day proclamation in 1954, calling on Americans to “remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom.”
As a member of the House Armed Services Committee and ranking member of the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, I take seriously the promises our nation has made to its active duty service personnel and veterans who have endured the rigorous conditions of military service to secure our freedoms and protect our national interests. Recently Congress passed with my support, another substantial increase in funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), building upon the previous increase that I supported last year, which provided the VA with the largest funding increase in its 79-year history.
Too often in recent years, Congress has failed to approve the VA’s annual budget for veterans’ healthcare before the start of the fiscal year. That is why I voted in favor of the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act (HR 1016), which became law on October 22, 2009. This legislation provides advanced appropriations for the VA of approximately $48 billion for FY2010, to give the VA a predictable and timely source of funding, and to protect veterans from funding delays that could have an adverse effect on the level of care and services that they need.
Effective August 1, 2009, an estimated 2.1 million veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan became eligible for a full, four-year college education under a new, 21st Century GI Bill. The “Post-9/11 GI Bill” expanded education benefits under the post-World War II Montgomery GI bill for today’s veterans, and permits service members to transfer these educational benefits to their spouses and dependents. I was proud to have supported the passage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, to help give our returning soldiers an opportunity for a successful future upon their return to civilian life.
On the first Armistice Day, November 11, 1919, President Wilson reflected on the one-year anniversary of the ceasefire as a moment “filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service.” Please join me on Veterans Day 2009, as we honor the millions of men and women who, through times of war and during peacetime, have proudly worn the uniform of the United States of America.