MANHATTAN, Kan. - Fort Riley commanding general Perry Wiggins was the keynote speaker for the Flint Hills Veterans Coalition/ Manhattan's Commemorative Program this Veterans Day. Brig. Gen. Wiggins was also scheduled to be the grand marshal for the annual parade, but that event was rained out.
Vietnam veteran Rich Wartell was Master of Ceremonies for the hour-long program. Winners of the 1st - 6th grade poster and essay contests were announced.
Wiggins saluted all veterans for their service. "These selfless Americans embody the values which America derives its strength," said Wiggins. "To say we owe our nation's veterans a debt of gratitude would be an understatement."
The original Armistice Day, November 11, came about as a result of the end of WWI. The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month was selected by the Allies as the time to sign the armistice to end the "war to end all wars."
This date was used to celebrate the end of WWII, although the end of fighting in Europe occurred in May and in the Pacific in August. The purpose of this day is to express our gratitude for peace and our own desire for the continuance of friendly relations with all people.
After the Korean War, enthusiasm increased for a single Veterans Day to celebrate and recognize the end of all American wars. This was first observed in Emporia, Kan. on November 11, 1953. On June 1, 1954, Congress changed the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.
During the 1960's, Congress passed legislation to declare certain three day federal holidays to be held on a designated Saturday, Sunday and Monday of each month. Veterans Day was one of those holidays. It was to be celebrated on the fourth Monday in October beginning in 1971.
Veterans organizations strenuously objected to this change. Many states voted to revert back to the original November 11 date. Because of the pressure exerted by the veterans organizations, Congress, in 1975, changed the date of the federal holiday back to November 11 where it remains.
Riley County dedicated its Armed Forces Memorial November 11, 1992. Special Veterans Day programs have been in Manhattan each year since the date.