Thursday, November 11, 2004

Emporia, Kansas and Veteran's Day

Dear Kari:

I have always known that Veteran's Day was based on the World War I Armistice Day of the war ending at 11:11 on November 11, 1918.

What I didn't know, until today, when I read USA Today , was that the transition from Armistice Day to Veteran's Day was due to the efforts of the town of Emporia, Kansas.


Page 15A
Emporia's gift to USA: A holiday for heroes

By Gregg Zoroya

Kansas town helped turn a commemoration of one war into a celebration of all who wear the uniform


Honoring military service in this prairie town inspired the nation 50 years ago to rename today Veterans Day. And here, the holiday has all the trappings of a festival.

For years, Nov. 11 had been known as Armistice Day to mark the end of World War I. But in Emporia, a band of veterans, led by a local cobbler who lost a nephew at the Battle of the Bulge, wanted to honor all veterans.

Bill Preston, 83, remembers when he and other World War II veterans were talking in 1953, and Alvin King, the cobbler, suggested changing the holiday's name. “We all thought that it would be a pretty good idea,” Preston says.

The idea soon spread to Congress by a Kansas representative. And in 1954, Armistice Day was renamed nationwide as Veterans Day.

This town of 27,000 is proud of that legacy and is marking the holiday this year with 11 days of tributes that end Sunday. Jeanine McKenna, head of the local visitors bureau, says the holiday is the town's footnote in history — something “we can grasp onto, that is unique, that makes us stand out.”

Each year, The Emporia Gazette publishes a special edition that lists hundreds of veterans, living and dead, from Emporia and surrounding Lyon County. This year's edition has 587 names. The issue also identifies every native son killed in combat going back to Civil War cavalry soldiers. About 2,500 veterans live in the area, says Liz Martell of the visitor’s bureau.

Want to take this moment on our little outpost in the blogosphere to thank all our veterans for their service and sacrifice. People here in the US and in all free lands around the globe where our men and women in uniform have served enjoy the blessings of liberty because of the full measure of your devotion. Thank you and God bless you all.



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