Veterans Day is one of those holidays, Columbus Day being another other, that a lot of American workers don't get. They don't get it in a couple of ways. And that's too bad both for them and for those the day honors.
1. They don't get the day off because their employer won't let them. Banks are closed as are many government offices and services. But for lots of people it is just another day. Unless they work retail in which case it is a very busy day.
2. A lot of people don't get Veterans Day because they don't get veterans. War is awful and the less said (or thought about it) the better. With the end of the draft, most American males didn't have to, and chose not to, do military service. In Congress, once filled with World War II, Korea and Vietnam veterans, the election of a military veteran today is increasingly rare.
3. And while Iraq and Afghanistan are very much alive, hot wars, they are also increasingly remote to many people. Many, probably most, don't have or maybe don't even know anybody in those danger zones. Or maybe even know anybody in the military.
Veterans Day started out as Armistice Day, commemorating the time -- the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month -- when World War 1, the war to end all wars, ended. If you are a little fuzzy about what all the fuss was about, try to get hold of Barbara Tuchman's book, the Guns of August. President John F. Kennedy once said that every world leader should be required to read it at least once a year. You really can't understand World War II until you read about World War I.
After awhile, Congress changed the name and moved Armistice Day to Veterans Day. As one of those Monday holidays that retailers (and people who get them) love. Finally, somebody figured out that this was one of those holidays (like July 4th) that really ought to be observed (to the extent it is) on the day in question.
So here we are.
If you are working, thanks. And welcome to the club. If you are off, get some rest, spend some money, and be nice to your family.
Mike Causey is a senior correspondent for Federal News Radio covering the pay and benefits issues of federal government employees. Mike writes a daily column for Federal News Radio, Mike Causey's Federal Report.
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