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Word On: Veterans Day

November 11, 2010
By U.S. Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa)
Q. What is Veterans Day?

A. World War I ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919. However, the fighting had stopped – pending the treaty – on November 11, 1918, “at the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month.”

President Wilson declared November 11 Armistice Day, saying, “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”

On June 4, 1926, Congress officially recognized the end of World War I with “a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.”

In October 1954, President Eisenhower changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day, encouraging widespread observance of the armistice anniversary, and recognition of veterans and veterans' organizations.

Q. What have you done to help our veterans?

A. Recently, I have been urging the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to step up its efforts to clear the backlog of veterans’ claims. I cosponsored successful legislation that ensures timely, sufficient and reliable funding for the VA health care system. This legislation was supported by all major veterans’ organizations as well as the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

I worked to include several provisions in the recently passed Caregiver and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act which will benefit veterans and their families by correcting a number of deficiencies in the way our country treats veterans with traumatic brain injuries, expanding mental health services, and enhancing support for veterans’ caregivers.

I am currently working to pass the Honor America’s Guard-Reserve Retirees Act, which will grant full veteran status to National Guard and Reserve members who served for 20 or more years and who, through no fault of their own, were never activated.

In 2009, I was humbled to receive the American Legion’s Distinguished Public Service Award for my efforts to benefit veterans.

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