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Enterprise Editorial: Local programs do well in honoring our veterans

Veterans Day programs at Park Rapids Century School, Menahga School and Nevis School are each unique in its own way and all carry the clear message of the importance in honoring our veterans. The programs offer an opportunity for students and the general public to learn what Veterans Day is all about and recognize the service of our local veterans.

The Park Rapids program is led by the Park Rapids Legion Color Guard, the Legion Auxiliary and the Sons of the American Legion are a class act in themselves. It's coordinated by retired teachers and dedicated volunteers Charli Cohrs and LaPalma Anderson who are in their 11th year of putting the program together.

This program does a nice job of involving students in a meaningful way as it features fifth through eighth graders dressed in military uniforms who provide a walk through history. This year's theme is "Flags of Our Fathers" and is definitely worth attending.

The Menahga School Veterans Day program features the Menahga VFW Color Guard and the Park Rapids Area Marine Corps League presenting the colors. Winners of the VFW's Patriot's Pen and the Voice of Democracy essay contests will read their essays during the program.

The keynote speaker at the Nevis School Veterans Day program is Geff Cooper, a retired U.S. Marine Corps colonel. He was commanding officer of 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marines during the invasion of Baghdad in 2003. He's got a compelling story to tell.

Local veterans will be recognized at all the programs and by attending we can all appreciate the men and women who have served in the armed forces for this great country.

History

Veterans Day originated as "Armistice Day" on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day—a common misunderstanding, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Memorial Day (the fourth Monday in May) honors American service members who died in service to their country or as a result of injuries incurred during battle, while Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans—living or dead—but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.

Veterans Day Facts

• In 1954, President Eisenhower officially changed the name of the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.

• In 1968, the Uniform Holidays Bill was passed by Congress, which moved the celebration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. The law went into effect in 1971, but in 1975 President Ford returned Veterans Day to November 11, due to the important historical significance of the date.

Veterans Stats

The brave men and women who serve and protect the U.S. come from all walks of life; they are parents, children and grandparents. They are friends, neighbors and coworkers, and an important part of their communities. Here are some facts about the current veteran population of the United States.

Did You Know?

There are approximately 23.2 million military veterans in the United States.

• 9.2 million veterans are over the age of 65.

• 1.9 million veterans are under the age of 35.

• 1.8 million veterans are women.

• 7.8 million veterans served during the Vietnam War era (1964-1975), which represents 33 percent of all living veterans.

• 5.2 million veterans served during the Gulf War (representing service from Aug. 2, 1990, to present).

• 2.6 million veterans served during World War II (1941-1945).

• 2.8 million veterans served during the Korean War (1950-1953).

• 6 million veterans served in peacetime.

• As of 2008, 2.9 million veterans received compensation for service-connected disabilities.

• 5 states have more than 1 million veterans in among their population: California (2.1 million), Florida (1.7 million), Texas (1.7 million), New York (1 million) and Pennsylvania (1 million).

• The VA health care system had 54 hospitals in 1930, since then it has expanded to include 171 medical centers; more than 350 outpatient, community, and outreach clinics; 126 nursing home care units; and 35 live-in care facilities for injured or disabled vets.

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