In-person Veterans Day returns

Headshot of Gerald Hay

After having a virtual event for the past two years because of COVID-19, Johnson County’s 2022 Johnson County Veterans Day will again honor all local veterans at an in-person celebration.

Timing of our annual observance remains the traditional date of Veterans Day. It will take place at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 11, at the Lenexa National Guard Armory located at 18200 West 87th Street Parkway.

Details of the 2022 Veterans Day observance remain a work in progress with activities to be finalized and publicly shared by the end of October through news media, social media, the November-December issue of The Best Times and the county’s website at Traditionally, the event features patriotic songs and music, presentation of colors and memorial wreaths by local veteran organizations, “Echo Taps” and rifle salute along with featured community and military speakers.

Johnson County’s annual observance of Veterans Day has been a grand tradition since 1987. It is always an important worthwhile community event in honoring our important, deserving veterans.

As a Marine Vietnam combat veteran, I remain very committed when it comes to Veterans Day, recognizing vets and thanking them for their service.

Veterans Day gives Americans the opportunity to celebrate the bravery and sacrifice of all U.S. veterans.

Whether they served years ago in WWII, Korea or Vietnam or more recently in Iraq or Afghanistan, or both; whether they are men or women, and whether they were on active duty or in Reserves; veterans of all military services, young and old, should be honored for defending and protecting our many freedoms and our Declaration of Independence for 246 years.

They are a truly band of brothers and sisters, day in day out, year in year out.

So, what do we mean when we thank veterans for their service? Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans — living or dead — but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.

As for the date the holiday is observed, we celebrate veterans on Nov. 11 because that is the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I.

Veterans Day evolved from Armistice Day, which was proclaimed in 1919 by President Woodrow Wilson. An armistice is when warring parties agree to stop fighting. Armistice Day recognized the end of World War I when hostilities ceased on Nov. 11 at 11 a.m., 1918 (11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month) 104 years ago.

Five months after the Treaty of Versailles was signed, President Wilson declared Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of “Armistice Day” to be noted with parades and speeches and picnics. On June 4, 1926, Congress resolved that the “recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations.”

On May 13, 1938, Congress made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and finally, after WWII, amended the holiday to honor American military veterans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Sadly, in practice, veterans largely honor themselves at many local Veteran Day celebrations. Perhaps that’s the best way to do it. It may be the only way to do it. Our military veterans deserve more than that. Some businesses and restaurants have long provided recognition, free meals and discounts to the nation’s warriors.

They all should. We all should.

Johnson County Veterans Day observance is 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 11, at the Lenexa National Guard Armory. Let’s gather and thank all of them for their military service. That’s all we want.