November is when Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, a holiday that remembers the first meal shared between colonists and Wampanoag Indians during the autumn harvest feast. In 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed November to be the month Thanksgiving would be nationally recognized. Up to that point, colonies and states celebrated Thanksgiving on different dates.

November is also a special month for our military and their families. National Military Family Month was established in 1996 and is celebrated throughout the month. It highlights and focuses on the sacrifices made by the families of our military, particularly those families with a service member stationed overseas, away from home. You can help celebrate by “adopting” a military family by sending a care package to the family, hosting a local military family for Thanksgiving dinner, or offering to help the family during a deployment by running errands, babysitting, cutting a lawn. Anything you do for a military family is indeed a wonderful idea, especially for junior enlisted families, who may be far from home for the first time.

Nov. 10 is the birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps. Formally recognized in 1921, the Corps recognizes Nov. 10, 1775, as the birth date. Tun Tavern in Philadelphia is recognized as the place the Corps became more than an idea. Starting in 1925, the Marine Corps Ball has become a service-wide celebration held at installations worldwide. Part of this ceremony is a general tradition of a cake cutting, using a Mameluke sword (in use by the Corps dating to 1805); the first piece is given to the guest of honor, with the second piece given to the oldest Marine present (whether active duty or not — as I learned at an early age from my Korean War Marine veteran father (“once a Marine, always a Marine), who then passes this piece to the youngest Marine present. This represents the passing of knowledge and experience.

Finally, the most recognized military celebration is Veterans Day. Always celebrated on Nov. 11, it remembers the Armistice and end of World War I. It is also recognized in England and Canada as Remembrance Day. This day is more closely related to our Memorial Day, a day to remember the war dead. Our Veterans Day is focused more on honoring all those active-duty, retired, and veterans who are still among us. It remembers their sacrifice and service to our country. Traditionally, the ceremony marking this day ends at 11 a.m. local time, to mark the end of World War I at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year. May 13, 1938, President Roosevelt declared Nov. 11 to be a federal holiday, to be celebrated Nov. 11 each year. Originally celebrated as Armistice Day, in 1947 it became more commonly known as a recognition of veterans from all conflicts.

So this Veterans Day, try to attend a local parade and ceremony, thank a veteran for his/her service, learn a little about a family. Honor their service.
Tom Moore, Adjutant
American Legion Post 86