Veterans Day, originally known as Armistice Day, became an observance to honor those who fought in World War I, which ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919. The war actually ended when the armistice, or the temporary cessation of all military operations, went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year 1918.
It was the end of what was called the "war to end all wars."
Of course, we now know that other wars followed. World War II was fought in the early 1940s, followed by the Korean Conflict in the early 1950s, the Vietnam War from 1964 to 1975, the first Gulf War in 1991, and the current hostilities carry on in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In fact, a year after the Korean Conflict ended in 1953, then President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969) amended the Act of 1938 that made Armistice Day a legal holiday by making it Veterans Day, to honor U.S. veterans of all wars.
Grandparents from those eras can relate the tales of war to their grandchildren, from their own experiences on the frontlines or their involvement at home.
Grandparents like Charley Hyrman, of Swartz Creek, Mich., Hyrman was 21 years old when he was drafted into the Army in 1941. He did tours of duty in North Africa and Italy, serving under the legendary commander of the Eighth Army, General George S. Patton (1885-1945).
Hyrman lived to tell about the horrors, returning home in 1945 to start a family with his wife, Rose, who died in 2001. Now 87, he enjoys the company of his 10 children, 33 grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren — with a seventeenth on the way.
"I saw things other people had to go through and we didn't, so I have a bigger appreciation for living in America," Hyrman told the Flint Journal. "I'm proud to have fought in the war. I served with pride."
Curtis Roosevelt was 11 when Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941, and the United States entered the War. He had a different view of World War II — from inside the White House.
His grandfather was Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945), the 32nd president of the United States.
Roosevelt and his older sister, Eleanor, were 3 and 6, respectively, when they moved into the White House with their grandfather in 1933, a few months after FDR won the first of four terms in 1932.
Despite dealing with The Great Depression during his first two terms, and then European aggression and, finally, the onset of war during his second two terms, FDR always had time to be a grandfather, Roosevelt, 78, recalled.
"He had this sense of humor," Roosevelt said, according to the Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal, on Sunday, November 9, during a speaking engagement at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, N.Y. "He could make anything amusing. Even serious issues."
Roosevelt was speaking as part of a promotional tour for his new book Too Close to the Sun (Perseus), a memoir about his days living with his grandfather, FDR, and his grandmother, Eleanor Roosevelt.
U.S. citizens of the World War II era were truly members of the "greatest generation," as Tom Brokaw, former NBC Nightly News anchor, dubbed it in his book of the same name. Yet the numbers of living veterans continue to dwindle, hence the importance of honoring those who served on Veterans Day.
“The future belongs to those that believe in the beauty of their dreams.”-Eleanor Roosevelt