Veteran Bill Milner says there are four dates all children should never forget: Veterans Day, Pearl Harbor Day, Memorial Day and D-Day.
Milner, 70, who served in the Navy during the Vietnam War, said, “It is why we are free today, because of these dates.”
To honor Veterans Day, Milner, who is also the commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7472 in Ellicott City, attended Veterans Elementary School’s 12th annual Salute to Veterans on Monday morning.
This Veterans Day marks the 101th anniversary of when the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month brought an end to World War I.
While WWI officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919, seventh months earlier on Nov. 11, 1918, fighting ceased and so that date is generally regarded as the end to the war, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as “Armistice Day,” and Veterans Day became a legal holiday on May 13, 1938.
“Veterans Day in Howard County should be a holiday,” Milner said, referring to having all businesses, offices and schools closed. “Veterans deserve it, and it’s a very special day.”
When enacted, the original concept for Veterans Day was to be a day with parades, public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11 a.m., according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Of the 25 veterans honored at the Ellicott City school Monday morning, many were family members of the school’s staff and several were from Post 7472.
Veterans Elementary opened in 2007 and sits on land the county purchased from Post 7472.
Before the salute began, veterans had breakfast in the school’s library, where they were welcomed with handwritten thank-you notes and drawings from students.
Students wrote “Thank you for your service and loyalty,” and “Thank you for your allowing us to use your land to build our school.”
During the ceremony, Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps from Howard High School performed the presentation of colors, and the Veterans Elementary orchestra performed “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the band ensemble performed “My Country, ’Tis of Thee” and the fifth-grade class sang “Home of the Brave.”
Speakers included schools Superintendent Michael Martirano, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball and Maryland State Board of Education member Gail Bates.
Sandi Kriebel, 69, who dressed as Rosie the Riveter, the famous icon that represented women who worked in factories during World War II, has been a member of Post 7472’s auxiliary since she was 12. Her father served in World War II, her brother served in Korea and her son served in the Persian Gulf War.
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“My dad didn’t talk about the wars but always about appreciating our country,” said Kriebel, who is also the former president of the National VFW Auxiliary. “He always preached to be loyal to our country and to honor the flag.”
Kriebel showed students World War II artifacts, including a ration box, during the ceremony. Students will have an opportunity to look at the artifacts in the “traveling trunk” for the next two weeks, provided by the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia, according to Kriebel.
As students exited the ceremony, they had an opportunity to briefly meet the veterans who attended the ceremony and shake their hands.
Kriebel said it’s important for children to not only understand the word veteran “but to also put faces to the word.