Monday holidays are great if you work for a place that grants them — or if you own a store, restaurant or business that benefits when people look for things to do and places to spend money on during a long weekend.
But by moving many holidays from their actual or original anniversary dates to a Monday, the original purpose of the holiday can get lost. As in, the what-are-we-commemorating? question can get lost.
Like today. Veterans Day.
I’ve got nothing against veterans. In fact, I slept with one last night. I even brushed his teeth. And the night before too. And will again for the rest of my days. I can’t shake the guy!
Veterans are great. Some more than others. But they did things — or gave up time — that most people today didn’t and don’t have to do.
But this holiday didn’t start out as Veterans Day. It was originally known as Armistice Day. It commemorated the end of World War I, when the shooting was supposed to stop at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. The war killed millions of military personnel and civilians too. It was supposed to be the war to end all wars, but it really set the stage for World War II. And others that came later.
One of the many tragedies of World War I was the timing when hostilities were to cease. The Germans were pretty well worn out and ready to call it a day. But some zealous British, French and American commanders wanted to push until the last minute to gain more territory, more glory before the shooting stopped. Although most people knew of the 11 a.m. deadline, thousands died in last-minute actions. One of them was a British officer named Fleming whose young son, Ian Fleming, would grow up to write the James Bond books. All in all, an estimated 10,000 men were killed that last day, including American Army Pvt. Henry Gunther who was shot dead at 10:59 a.m, one minute before the ceasefire.
The last American veteran of World War I died in February 2011.
So have a nice holiday. Take a vet to lunch. But remember, it wasn’t always celebrated on a Monday and it had another name for a long time. 11- 11-11 still should mean something.
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