POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica

Honoring All Who Served or Serve

by David Trumbull

Novemer 6, 2009

We have a sacred trust with those who wear the uniform of the United States of America. From the Minutemen who stood watch over Lexington and Concord to the service members who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, American veterans deserve our deepest appreciation and respect… proclamation, by the President of the United States, of November 11, 2009 as Veterans Day

The following Q & A is from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs

Q. Which is the correct spelling of Veterans Day?

A. Veterans Day does not include an apostrophe but does include an "s" at the end of "veterans" because it is not a day that "belongs" to veterans, it is a day for honoring all veterans.

Q. On what day of the week will Veterans Day be observed?

A. Veterans Day is always observed officially on November 11, regardless of the day of the week on which it falls.

Q. What is the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day?

A. Many people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country. While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military - in wartime or peacetime. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service.

Q. Why are red poppies worn on Veterans Day, and where can I obtain them?

A. The wearing of poppies in honor of America's war dead is traditionally done on Memorial Day, not Veterans Day.

To that last point I add that many of us do join our friends from the British Commonwealth nations in wearing the red poppy of remembrance on November 11th as well as on Memorial Day. Poppies on days of remembrance are a sort of secular sacramental—like the smudge of ash that Catholics bear on their foreheads on the first day of lent—an outward and visible sign. Such public displays are good and ought to be promoted, especially among the young. While we do not compel anyone to any particular observation, the man, or woman, who neglects such ritualized acts of honor ought to stand out from the norm. I recall vividly, as a teenager, getting that lesson from an unexpected source, a Dorothy Sayers mystery, The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, in which the practice—nearly universal in the 1920s—of wearing remembrance poppies is the source of the clue to the mystery.

For more information on the celebration of Veterans Day, see

[David Trumbull is the chairman of the Boston Ward Three Republican Committee. Boston's Ward Three includes the North End, West End, part of Beacon Hill, downtown, waterfront, Chinatown, and part of the South End.]