Saturday is Veterans Day, a federal holiday that commemorates and honors every veteran who has served and is serving in America's armed forces.
It has its roots in Armistice Day, the day when world leaders signed the documents to end World War I — at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.
Many present-day ceremonies, including Saturday in downtown Bloomington, start at 10:49 a.m., 11 minutes before the actual anniversary. Veterans past and present — from the Revolutionary War to our present-day warriors, are honored and memorialized with speeches, prayers, pride and tears.
It hasn't always been that way.
Ask a Vietnam War veteran how he or she was welcomed home in the early 1970s, and you'll likely get a hard stare as those painful memories are dredged up. This year, Veterans Day recalls the centennial of the beginning of the first World War.
Few are left of the "greatest generation," those who served during World War II. Veterans of more recent wars, conflicts and peacetime service are gradually aging and finding themselves in need of help that can be provided through various veterans' organizations and the Veterans Administration.
Providing that help is a weekly feature, called Veterans Corner, that appears each Monday in The Pantagraph. Coordinated by leaders of local veterans groups, the Q&A format provides quick and easy answers and shares benefit information with veterans and their families.
There are those who believe "veteran" is reserved for people who served in war time, and those who served on hostile ground. We prefer to use the designation to honor all who have served overseas and stateside, in war time and in peace.
Anyone who chooses to wear the uniform and bear arms to serve, protect and defend the United States is worth celebrating, thanking and remembering. We are proud to help give back through our partnership with local veterans' groups to provide Veterans Corner.
But Saturday, on Veterans Day, we ask that you consider attending a Veterans Day ceremony, observing a moment of silence at 11 a.m., shaking a hand of someone in uniform, or just paying silent tribute to those who have served and continue to serve our country.
Earlier this year, our communities mourned the death of Sgt. Josh Rodgers, 22, an Army Ranger who died in Nangarhar Province during a joint operation with Afghan forces. It was his third tour to Afghanistan.
His loss, and all those that came before him, remind us of the freedom protected by all veterans, past and present, who have served our nation.
On behalf of a grateful nation, we offer our heartfelt thanks to all those who have served and are serving in America's armed forces and to their families who selflessly support their efforts.