School concert honors veterans
“Oh say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light, what so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?”
Those words, the opening verse of the “Star Spangled Banner,” reverberated through the confines of the gym at Sunrise River Elementary School Friday.
Students of the school belted out the song, joined by military veterans from North Branch American Legion Post 85 and North Branch VFW 6424.
Even some proud parents and other onlookers at the event joined in the singing.
The students also sang “America,” “America, the Beautiful,” “I Love America,” “God Bless the U.S.A.” “We Want to Thank You!” — written by Tracey John and performed by her fourth-grade class — and they ended the nearly hour-long concert with “Grand Old Flag.”
The purpose of the concert was to honor military veterans and their families prior to Veterans Day.
The history of Veterans Day
From the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs:
World War I — known at the time as “The Great War” — officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. For that reason, Nov. 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”
In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”
The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11 a.m.
An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made Nov. 11 in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.” Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history, and then after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, Nov. 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.