Magazine article VFW Magazine

Veterans Day and VFW

Magazine article VFW Magazine

Veterans Day and VFW

Article excerpt

Armistice Day was re-designated Veterans Day in 1954 to honor WWII and Korea veterans in addition to WWI Doughboys. Some 55 years earlier, VFW had advocated a philosophy identical to the one spurring that name change.

Civil War veteran groups excluded overseas veterans. Consequently, our founders in Columbus, Ohio, in 1899 took a novel approach.

Twelve founders who gathered on Sept. 29 had fought on Cuba with the U.S. 17th Infantry Regiment. Despite serving in a single unit, their organization would expand beyond the ranks of former SpanishAmerican War soldiers.

They wisely anticipated the need to remain "evergreen" so as to not wither on the vine after the last member passed on. This concept of ever-expanding eligibility, while maintaining proud standards of membership, was reaffirmed at unification.

Back in 1914, Rice W. Means, first commander-inchief of the recently unified VFW, wrote in The Veteran that the organization "must be so broad in its provision for eligibility to include every man who has served, or in the future will serve, in any war in which the United States is engaged."

So when Congress created Veterans Day in 1954, VFW actually had been practicing the principles that November 11 now represents for more than five decades.

VFW, in fact, was instrumental in passing that legislation. Initiated by Raymond Weeks, a member of VFW Post 668 in Birmingham, Ala., and spearheaded in Congress by Rep. Edwin K. Rees (R-Kan.), the name was officially changed that June 1.

In the more than 60 years since, our ranks have been replenished with youthful members from succeeding generations of war veterans. …

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