Paul Hansen

Paul Hansen

Veterans Day will be celebrated today at 11 a.m. on the Town Square. Last year I attended the ceremony for the first time in a while. It was wonderful. I will not miss another.

Vietnam veteran Ed Liebzeit, a local Realtor and amazing civic volunteer leader, was the master of ceremony last year and will be again this year.

Teton County Public Health has approved the event. American Legion Post 43 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4274, our hosts, ask that everyone attending wear a face covering and physically distance.

This will be the first Veterans Day memorial in front of the new monument to Jackson Hole veterans. It was completed this year entirely with volunteer donations. The monument honors all of our veterans who were born here, served from here or died here. All their names are on the monument.

Taking time to recognize our veterans and to say “thank you” is what Veterans Day is all about. Last year Liebzeit read us a remarkable statement from Medal of Honor winner David Bellavia on why people serve in the military. Here are some excerpts:

“It is our love of nation, our way of life and our love for those with whom we serve, side by side. We defend, we avenge, we sacrifice, we bleed, and we are willing to die for this unique creation, the United States of America.

“There is no political affiliation on our dog tags.

“We fight so our children will never have to. We fight for one day when our children and our enemy’s children can discuss their differences without fear or loathing. Americans want this kind of world, and we stand ready to defend it, to protect us, so help us God.”

Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, was originally set as a U.S. legal holiday to honor the end of World War I: Nov. 11, 1918. In legislation that was passed in 1938, Nov. 11 was dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be celebrated and known as Armistice Day. As such, at the time this new legal holiday honored World War I veterans.

In 1954, after having been through World War II and the Korean War, the 83rd U.S. Congress — at the urging of the veterans service organizations — amended the act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, Nov. 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

Some people confuse Veterans Day with Memorial Day. Memorial Day honors service members who died in service to their country or as a result of injuries incurred during battle. Deceased veterans are also remembered on Veterans Day, but the day is set aside to thank and honor living veterans who served honorably in the military — in wartime or peacetime.

Ed Liebzeit ended last year’s memorial with these words:

“I believe I speak for veterans and today’s military when I say we don’t care who you voted for, who you worship, if you are rich or poor. We have a focus that is caring for, supporting and protecting all Americans in the United States of America. Members of our military want a world of peace and stability just like all of you.”

Thank you, veterans. Thank you for your service.

Paul W. Hansen’s Common Ground column appears about twice a month. Columns are solely the opinion of their authors. Contact him via columnists@jhnewsandguide.com.

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