Veterans Day happens to fall on a Monday this year, bringing it in line with other holidays arranged to be celebrated at the start of the work week to create three-day weekends. The extra day off provides opportunities for relaxed celebrations, such as backyard barbecues or outings at the water.

But what makes Veterans Day special is we always celebrate it on Nov. 11, because it began as a way to honor a specific event in time — the 11th hour of the 11th day in the 11th month of November in 1918 — the cessation of fighting between the Alllies and Germany in World War I. A year later, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first Armistice Day.

Nov. 11, 1918, marked the end of what was then regarded as “the war to end all wars.” Unfortunately, that wasn’t quite true or really all that realistic, and 23 years later the United States was involved in another world war, a much broader one with more serious implications. And that one didn’t end all wars any more than the previous one did. And the fight continues.

That is all the reason why Veterans Day is needed. Congress in 1954 changed the name of Armistice Day, which had been made a legal holiday in 1938, to Veterans Day to honor all those who have served and sacrificed for our country through the years, throughout the world, in all wars.

Observation of Veterans Day in Brazoria County spans more than a single day. On Thursday at the Angleton High School auditorium, 400 fifth-graders from throughout Angleton ISD sang songs and took part in a patriotic program to honor veterans. Several other events are scheduled Monday and Tuesday, including the county parade in Brazoria.

While these programs offer a public way to honor veterans, there are other, day-to-day ways to show our respect, such as hanging a flag in our yard, asking a veteran about their time in the military, visiting a veteran’s gravesite or visiting a homebound veteran in their home. (For a list of suggestions, visit http://www.militaryspot.com/community/ways-to-honor-veterans-on-veterans-day.)

But these public forums offer a special chance to honor those who’ve chosen to serve their country — and since the Vietnam War, it’s all been by choice and not by conscription. And for the great majority of us who haven’t served, they’re a chance to see in the eyes of the veterans what their service meant to them and to us, the pride they feel and the unending respect they deserve.

Whether joining the parade in Brazoria, the celebration at the VFW in Clute or just shaking the hand of a stranger wearing a hat identifying their service, every person should pay tribute to veterans Monday — and every other chance they get.

This editorial was written by Phil Ellenbecker, a copy editor with The Facts.

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