Veterans Day Remembrance
Village Honors Veterans of Armed Services
Story and Photo By John Thomas
On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, Ellicottville will pause for a few moments to recognize and give thanks to those among us who have served or are serving in the Armed Services. This year the holiday falls on a Saturday, therefore minimizing excuses for not attending. The service will be held on Village Green in front of Village and Town Hall and the gazebo. Dale Dunkleman from the American Legion Post 659 will lead a short ceremony. There will be a 21-gun salute to all veterans living or dead. A wreath will be placed on the memorial stone on the lawn to honor those sons of Ellicottville (as yet no daughters) who never returned home. The event is kept simple and unadorned: no marching band, or parade, just a quiet moment of reflection about those men and women who have served this country. Mr. Dunkleman says all are invited and “Everybody should come as a patriotic duty.”
It is sometimes too easy to forget about the veterans among us. As a group, they make up those who have served in any of the Armed Forces, and in both peacetime and war. In the US there are 21 million men and women who are veterans. Included in that number are two million women. All veterans make up some 6.5% of the population. Since the Revolutionary War, service men and women have served in eleven major wars. There have also been numerous smaller conflicts: The Barbary Wars of the 1800’s, peacekeeping in the former Yugoslavia, to hunting down Osama Bin Laden.
When we thank a veteran for their service, we are acknowledging the fact that they left behind, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, children, lovers, and friends to be sent into harm’s way in a foreign country. As part of their duty, they were subjected to lethal danger, stifling heat, bitter cold, disease, capture and torture. Many did not come home. Those that did were often maimed, or missing body parts, or psychologically damaged.
The eleventh hour of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month of 1918 was the day chosen for signing the armistice ending WWI. The truce ended the shooting, but the war didn’t officially end until the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in June of 1919. It was supposed to be the war that ended all wars. Sadly, history has proved otherwise. Woodrow Wilson signed the bill recognizing a day called Armistice Day November 11, 1919. Calvin Coolidge signed a bill calling for the official observance of Armistice Day. In 1947 the holiday was expanded to include all veterans of all US conflicts. In 1954 President Eisenhower signed the bill changing the name of the holiday to Veterans Day.