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What's so Important about Emporia, Kansas in November?

Written by  October 31, 2003

At first thought, November is a month that seems to be just so-so to many Americans across the United States. But once you start thinking about all the things that occur in this month, it is quite an eventful time. It delivers the ever changing weather, shifting rapidly between fall and winter. It brings down the last of the falling colorful leaves that many enjoy, and brings on the scorn of those who must rake them up. Thanksgiving is celebrated with the gathering of family, friends and food, and there is one other important event that is often overlooked or not understood by many fellow countrymen, and that is Veterans Day.

Veterans Day does seem to be one of those quiet holidays, much like Presidents Day and Flag Day, but every November 11th, throughout every town in America, war veterans reflect back on those past dangerous and difficult times. Most veterans have a tendency to keep their thoughts and emotions to themselves, as we know most citizens would not understand what we had to do, see, feel and live with for the rest of our lives. Most veterans would rather have this Remembrance Day pass by quietly, with no hoopla. However, the message must remain clear and not be lost with the passing of time. What message you ask? To honor all the men and women who fought for this country, ensuring the United States remains a free Nation.

Many don’t know that Veterans Day actually began as Armistice Day, back in 1938, to recognize the end of WWI: the war to end all wars. However, history proved this thought to be wrong, as WWI was followed by many wars and conflicts, such as WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Granada, Panama, Gulf and now Iraq. The first move to make Armistice Day a recognition of all veterans who fought for America was started in Emporia, Kansas by a shoe cobbler named Alvin King. He never served in the military, but was one of those special citizens that took on a challenge, because it was the right thing to do. On November 11, 1953, he coordinated a special parade to honor the many war veterans in his hometown, which he referred to as “All Veterans Day.”

It just so happened, that Kansas Governor Edward F. Arn attended the parade and felt this was something that should be held throughout every town in the United States. He asked U.S. Representative, Ed Rees of Emporia to introduce legislation in Congress to change Armistice Day to Veterans Day for all of America. Within one year, on October 8, 1954, President Eisenhower signed a proclamation that stated: “On that day, let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom.”

I ask that if you know a veteran who, not necessarily fought in a war, but served their country, thank them in some special, quiet, and meaningful manner - they will be embarrassed, but will be truly grateful.

This is the 50th Anniversary of Veterans Day in Emporia, Kansas and townspeople are pulling out all the stops for this celebration. Many special events are being held from November 5-11, 2003. Please take a look at the their website for all the activities and times www.emporiakschamber.org, or call 800-279-3730. If you can’t attend any of the events in Emporia this year, call your local American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars for events in your area to show your respect and support.

A special note of thanks to The American Legion and Jeff Stoffer.

Bart

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