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by Lisa M. Sheldon, Guest Writer

Veterans Day has been celebrated in the U.S. since 1919 when President Woodrow Wilson declared it Armistice Day, which was the end of hostile operations in World War I. In 1938, it became a legal holiday, but was not renamed Veterans Day until 1954. Since its beginnings, the country has found creative ways to celebrate.

Wherever you are in West Virginia, you can count on the simple fact that our veterans will be honored with the respect and love they deserve, regardless of the type of celebration. We have come up with some great ways to say thank you.

The most popular and visible celebrations are the Veterans Day parades that occur from the weekend prior until Veteran’s Day. The parades may include regular floats and bands, etc., but the highlights are always the veterans. Some of them will be riding in convertibles and waving. Some will be on floats. Some will be marching with their VFW and American Legion posts, or other organizations. The one place you will always see veterans is proudly leading the way, displaying the colors of the U.S. and branches of its Armed Services. No matter what mode of transportation they use, the sight brings pride, joy and sometimes tears to observers.

There are veterans appreciation dinners put on by area churches and civic and community organizations in nearly every county. Dinners range from fancy catered events to hometown covered dish luncheons. Servicemen and women from the past and present are encouraged to share their lives and events of service. These are great opportunities for community members to personally say thank you to individual veterans.

West Virginia youths do not forget their veterans either. Many schools have assemblies that include flag raisings, patriotic music and speeches by area veterans. Another event is Take a Vet to School Day, which has been a hit in high schools that have participated. The veteran can be a family member or a community member. During the day, veterans are encouraged to participate as much as they would like. There are also special events planned for the veterans and their escorts

Other celebrations include flag dedication ceremonies at county seats, fraternal organizations and cemeteries, and 5K and 10K runs. The events include two main things: an opportunity to visit with and learn from those who have served and an opportunity to say thank you.

Take time to participate in your area’s Veterans Day celebrations and let a veteran know that you appreciate the sacrifice and service they provided for the safety and security of the nation and for you personally.


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