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The Meaning of Veterans Day



Each November 11, our nation commemorates Veterans Day. But what does the holiday mean, and how do we properly observe it? In this ebook, we examine the evolving meaning of Veterans Day, with selections by American authors such as Ambrose Bierce, Ernest Hemingway, Robert Frost, and Stephen Crane, among others, and speeches by Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Douglas MacArthur, and Ronald Reagan, to name just a few. We begin by considering the experience of war, and ask how should we properly honor veterans, their deeds, and their service. Each selection includes a brief introduction by the editors with guiding questions for discussion. 

WATCH: Editors Amy and Leon Kass discuss John F. Kelly’s Veterans Day Speech to the Semper Fi Society of St. Louis with Eliot A. Cohen (Johns Hopkins SAIS) and Raphael Cohen (Georgetown University).

Veterans Day: Its Evolving Meaning
A History of Veterans Day: Its Origins and Traditions 
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Address on Armistice Day
Omar N. Bradley, Armistice Day Address
John F. Kennedy, Veterans Day Remarks

The Experience of War
Going to War
George M. Cohan, “Over There”
Mark Twain, “The War Prayer”

At War
Ambrose Bierce, “A Son of the Gods”
Ernie Pyle, “Digging and Grousing”
John F. Kennedy, Letter to His Parents
John McCain, Excerpt from “Prisoner of War: A First-Person Account”

Coming Home
Robert Frost, “Not to Keep” 
Ernest Hemingway, “Soldier’s Home” 
Stephen Crane, “The Veteran” 
Walt Whitman, “The Artilleryman’s Vision” 
Walt Whitman, “Old War-Dreams”

Walt Whitman, “Reconciliation” 
Bruce Catton, “The Day the Civil War Ended”

Honoring Veterans, Their Deeds, and Their Service
Public Recognition
Paul Laurence Dunbar, “The Veteran” 
Douglas MacArthur, “Duty, Honor, Country”
Ronald Reagan, Speech on the Fortieth Anniversary of D-Day

Between Parents and Children
Stephanie Vaughn, Excerpt from “Kid MacArthur” (ebook only)
James Bradley (with Ron Powers), “Sacred Ground,” from Flags of Our Fathers

Joe Carter, “What a Veteran Knows”
John F. Kelly, Veterans Day Speech to the Semper Fi Society of St. Louis

Military Songs and Traditions
“The Army Goes Rolling Along”
“Anchors Aweigh”
“The Marines Hymn”
“The US Air Force”
Oath of Enlistment

ABOUT THE COVER: Arthur Clifton Goodwin, Liberty Loan Parade, 1918

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