"A Reflection on Veterans Day"
By Jean Tanner
Even though the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs -- which provides federal benefits for veterans, dependents and survivors, and is authorized by Congress -- didn't begin until 1930, a system dating back to 1636 when the Pilgrims of Plymouth Rock were at war with the Pequot tribe was already at work. The Pilgrims passed a law that stated disabled soldiers would be supported by the colony.
In 1776, Congress offered to provide pensions for soldiers who were disabled, which encouraged them to enlist during the Revolutionary War. Then in 1917, when the United States entered the first World War, a new system of veteran benefits -- including programs for disability compensation and insurance -- was set up. Through the years, the VA health care system has grown and far exceeds the original 54 hospitals set up in the 1930s.
A special event, "The Concert for Valor," honoring and paying tribute to the "courage and sacrifice" of America's veterans and their families, will be performed free to the public at 7 p.m. Nov. 11 at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It will be broadcast live by HBO and includes performances by Eminem, Rihanna, Bruce Springsteen and Carrie Underwood. Other celebrities expected to appear are Jamie Foxx, Meryl Streep, Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks.
What started as Armistice Day -- before being changed to Veterans Day in 1954 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower -- is recognized each year on Nov. 11 and gives everyone a chance to pay tribute to and honor American veterans of all wars for their willingness to serve. There will be many activities in our area, so don't miss out on your chance to show your patriotic colors and say thank you.
I recently found out about Rags of Honor, a custom silk screen and apparel company devoted to hiring homeless and chronically unemployed veterans with the belief that "they had our backs, let's keep these shirts on theirs." I found this to be impressive. More than 300,000 homeless vets were given shelter last year for at least one night from the sale of these T-shirts. If you're interested, go to http://ragsofhonor.us.
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