Whether by coincidence, kismet or design, we in the United States observe Veterans Day two weeks — give or take up to three days — before Thanksgiving.
The Nov. 11 date for Veterans Day, of course, dates to the end of World War I in 1918. President Woodrow Wilson set the precedent of marking the date with an official address the following year, and over the decades Congress and various presidents have formalized and codified it as a legal national holiday that celebrates all veterans from all wars America has fought.
Thanksgiving we celebrate on the fourth Thursday of November — per calendar mathematics, the earliest that can be is Nov. 22, and the latest is Nov. 28 — and it has been that way since at least the early 1800s, selected to coincide with Evacuation Day, which marked the date, Nov. 25, 1783, when the British Army bugged out of New York City after the conclusion of the Revolutionary War. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln published a proclamation in which he invited all citizens, “in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands” to set aside the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving, for “the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies” and, the Civil War notwithstanding, for the peace and harmony that had prevailed throughout the land and around the world. In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt pushed the date forward to the second to last Thursday of November, to extend the Christmas shopping season by another week, but then, just two years later, changed it back to the fourth Thursday, where it has abided ever since.
So November is a month full of gratitude and, hopefully, reasons to be grateful. In the Nov. 18 edition of the Jackson Hole News&Guide, newsroom staffer Emily Mieure and photographer Ryan Dorgan attended our annual Veterans Day observances at the appointed time and day at the center of Town Square, where 100 or more citizens gave thanks for all the Teton County men and women who have served — from the Spanish-American War up to present day.
And in the coming week, of course, Jackson Hole will give thanks for “the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies” and — civil strife, political turmoil and global health crisis notwithstanding — the security and surety with which we citizens of this country live.
— Richard Anderson