Here it is; the declaration signed in 1954, expanding the traditional November 11 Armistice Day remembrance of our veterans to "pay appropriate homage to the veterans of all its wars who have contributed so much to the preservation of this Nation..." All veterans, regardless of race, religion or politics. This honoring of the men and women who risked their lives, whether willingly or by conscription, in service of their country, had no caveats.
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Whereas it has long been our customs to commemorate November 11, the anniversary of the ending of World War I, by paying tribute to the heroes of that tragic struggle and by rededicating ourselves to the cause of peace; and Whereas in the intervening years, the United States has been involved in two other great military conflicts, which have added millions of veterans living and dead to the honor rolls of this Nation; and
Whereas the Congress passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926 (44 Stat. 1982), calling for the observance of November 11 with appropriate ceremonies, and later provided in an act approved May 13, 1938 (52 Stat. 351) , that the eleventh of November should be a legal holiday and should be known as Armistice Day; and
Whereas, in order to expand the significance of that commemoration and in order that a grateful Nation might pay appropriate homage to the veterans of all its wars who have contributed so much to the preservation of this Nation, the Congress, by an act approved June 1, 1954 (68 Stat. 168), changed the name of the holiday to Veterans Day:
Now, Therefore, I, Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States of America , do hereby call upon all of our citizens to observe Thursday, November 11, 1954 , as Veterans Day. On that day let us solemnly 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, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.
I also direct the appropriate officials of the Government to arrange for the display of the flag of the United States on all public buildings on Veterans Day.
In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose.
Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and cause the Seal of the United States of America to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington this eighth day of October in the Year of our Lord nineteen hundred and fifty-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and seventy-ninth.
DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER
But attacks have been made upon the service of these men and women by men and women who are not veterans. And the very same government officials who were not veterans dared to harshly judge the performance of those who were. And every yearly ceremony honoring veterans has added more names to the list of veterans whose service was dishonored. There was Senator John McCain whose military record had to be disparaged by his political opponent George W. Bush in the 2000 election. There was Max Cleland, a disabled veteran of the VietNam war, whose military service was disparaged by the Republican party members trying to defeat his Senate candidacy. And there was Senator John Kerry, who required a whole organization to be created to "swiftboat" his Viet Nam service.
And these were political moves and can be expected from those who prefer winning and who do not really honor veterans. These are the people who pay lip service to "supporting the troops" while behind closed doors cutting VA funding; who provide state of the art medical treatment to a president and vice president who are not veterans while housing wounded veterans in deplorable and unsafe conditions out of sight and out of their thoughts.
And like a malignancy, this "support the troops" mentality that doesn’t require any support for those troops after they become veterans reached a new low yesterday, November 11, 2007. It is no longer a holiday honoring the Veterans. It now contains a litmus test for veterans and divides those who support a political viewpoint of a particular party from those who exercise their Amendment I right to speak out when they believe that political viewpoint is wrong. They are all still veterans; just second class veterans and thus not entitled to the same honor given to the "politically correct" veterans.
All across the United States, groups like Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace and Military Families to Speak Out were banned from the Veterans Day celebrations with these words: Your organization of veterans does not "represent the spirit of the parade." So what is the "spirit of the parade"? Honoring the service of veterans, no matter what war or what branch they served in? Or is the "spirit of the parade" to represent the political opinions of a chief executive who lied to Congress and these veterans about why the would be invading Iraq?
But the ban on certain veterans comes down to this. These veterans groups were denied participation because the people who gave out the permits did not like their political views. It was a tempest in a teapot to support an unpopular war continued by an unpopular leader. They can not say that, "This is not a political event, this is a time to say thanks to all the veterans" as Long beach City Councilman Val Learch did, while that Council denied participation of veterans groups based on political ideology.
Nothing makes the American Legion more worthy of participation in that parade than Veterans for Peace. Didn’t they all want the same thing? Isn’t that what all those veterans from World War II, Korean, and VietNam really wanted? To survive, to go home to their families, to have Peace? As veteran Jason Lemieux told the Long Beach City Council,
I hope that the city council and the Mayor will work to overturn this decision and give Iraq Veterans Against the war AND Veterans for Peace AND Military Families to Speak Out which are two organizations which we work very closely with, the permission to participate in Long Beach veterans Day Parade because if you truly want to support this nations Veterans and their patriotic service you don’t have the option of supporting only the ones that you like.
November 11 was chosen as Armistice Day to celebrate the formal ending of that "war to end all wars" at the 11th hour of the 11th month of 1918. November 11 was a day honoring all the veterans of all those nations who fought. It isn’t just our holiday, it is celebrated by many countries and there is something very wrong with segregating this nation’s veterans by their political views and it destroys the spirit of that honor. What must those who share our November commemoration think of this!