Veterans Day, formerly Armistice Day, is the holiday we observe annually in the U.S. in honor of all those, living and dead, who served with the U.S. armed forces.
The day originally commemorated the termination (at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month) of World War I. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 Armistice Day to remind Americans of the tragedies of war.
Congress changed the name in 1954 to Veterans Day to honor all U.S. veterans.
Sometimes we take our freedoms for granted. Perhaps many of us don't remember or are too young to have a connection with the times when war threatened the U.S. mainland. Maybe because our military is so successful, we often don't think about or feel threatened by the current war on terrorism.
Yet we cannot afford to forget that thanks to the thousands of veterans who defended our country, and who continue to defend our country, we are free today. The fact that we have choices in our lives directly connects us to these people.
In Trumbull County Saturday, a nice crowd took advantage of unseasonable weather to honor our veterans in downtown Warren. And to think, in 2002 there were not enough people interested to support a parade.
How things have changed.
Saturday's ceremony at 11 a.m. was its usual solemn remembrance. But this year a highlight is the introduction of ''Valor and Sacrifice,'' a book of more than 200 veteran profile stories written by Tribune Chronicle staff between 2003 and 2011 in a complete, hardcover volume.
The 424-page, full-color book offers a collection of riveting personal experiences based on 217 interviews with Trumbull County veterans. It includes photos taken by Tribune journalists and pictures from the veterans' service eras.
We owe an all-too-often unspoken debt to these warriors whom the community honored Saturday. At times such as Sept. 11, 2001, the nation gathers around and openly honors its defenders of freedom, but the spirit seems to ebb over time, until the next disaster sends the general populace crying for protection from those in uniform.
We have observed a heated election season that is being followed by a peaceful continuation of governance. That happens in the United States of America as a result not only of our system of government but of our strength - our military - that keeps outside influences from upsetting our peaceful way of selecting leaders. We have our freedoms today because of actions taken by soldiers from years ago.
There are about 23 million veterans in the United States, including more than 900,000 in Ohio. In general, Americans seem to do a good job in keeping our promises to care for veterans. But sometimes, the gigantic bureaucracy that is the Veterans Administration is guilty of lapses such as unacceptable conditions in veterans hospitals and lengthy waits for decisions on benefits.
That is not acceptable. Ensuring veterans and their families receive all the help they have been promised should be a top priority of government at all times - not just on patriotic holidays and at election time.
Today is a special day across the nation, and especially in Trumbull County. Many people were able to participate Saturday and say thanks to the veterans in our midst. Let us not just honor them on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, but every day. They deserve it.
IN FLANDERS FIELD
By Capt. John D. McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe!
To you from failing hands, we throw
The torch - Be yours to hold it high!
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.