The Post 66, American Legion, located on Grand Avenue, is a building for a military veterans service association. Carsten Frauenheim | Mustang News

Elias Atienza is a history junior and Mustang News columnist. The views expressed in this column do not reflect the viewpoints and editorial coverage of Mustang News.

Veterans Day is the day we honor veterans who have fought for the country. From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli, the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines of the United States have sacrificed life and limb and answered the call of duty.

Veterans Day is Nov. 11, known as Armistice Day or the end of  World War I (WWI). While WWI didn’t officially end until June 28, 1919 with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, then-President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as its official end. It was a day to honor peace in the aftermath of the Great War that killed tens of millions. Wilson said the holiday was to honor “the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”

In 1926, Congress put that into law and in 1938, declared it to be a holiday. In 1954, after the end of World War II and Korea, Congress struck “Armistice” from the title and put in its place “Veterans.” Instead of simply being a holiday to celebrate the end of WWI and the pursuit of peace, it became a holiday to commemorate and honor the veterans who fought for the U.S. throughout our history.

It is a day to remember those who fought to free the colonies from British tyranny, a day to remember those who fought to defeat the secessionists who would enslave others because of their skin color, a day to remember those who embarked on the great crusade to free a continent from the hands of totalitarianism and fascism.

And while the alt-right and Lost Cause revisionists might argue that the Civil War was an unjust war, Colonel Ty Seidule puts it plainly in a video for Prager University,”As a soldier, I am proud that the United States Army, my army, defeated the Confederates. In its finest hour, soldiers wearing this blue uniform, almost 200,000 of them former slaves themselves, destroyed chattel slavery, saved 4,000,000 men, women and children and saved the United States of America.”

We can debate the consequences of our more controversial wars such as Vietnam, but Sen. Dick Durbin put it best. In recalling Joseph Ambrose, a WWI veteran who lost his son in Korea, Durbin said, “He wanted to remind us of an important truth: that no matter the outcome of a war, those who answer the call of duty and risk everything to defend America deserve the respect of a grateful nation.”

That’s the meaning of Veterans Day. It is not just a day that we have off; it’s a day where we honor those who have risked everything to fight for the U.S.

They deserve our utmost respect.

As Reagan said in 1986: “Veterans Day gives all Americans a special opportunity to pay tribute to all those men and women who, throughout our history, have left their homes and loved ones to serve their country … From Valley Forge to Vietnam, through war and peace, valiant patriotic Americans have answered the call, serving with honor and fidelity.”

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