Almighty God, we commend to your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad. Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace…
History of Veterans Day
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 an armistice between Germany and the Allied nations came into effect. On November 11, 1919, Armistice Day was commemorated for the first time. In 1919, President Wilson proclaimed the day should be “filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory”. There were plans for parades, public meetings and a brief suspension of business activities at 11am.
In 1926, the United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I and declared that the anniversary of the armistice should be commemorated with prayer and thanksgiving. The Congress also requested that the president should “issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.”
An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) was approved on May 13, 1938, which made November 11 in each year a legal holiday, known as Armistice Day. This day was originally intended to honor veterans of World War I. A few years later, World War II required the largest mobilization of service men in the history of the United States and the American forces fought in Korea. In 1954, the veterans service organizations urged Congress to change the word “Armistice” to “Veterans”. Congress approved this change and on June 1, 1954, November 11 became a day to honor all American veterans, where ever and whenever they had served.
Resources for Worship
Suggestions for observing Veterans Day including a listing of hymns, scripture and a litany. From the United Methodist Church.
Veterans’ Day Litany by Robb McCoy
Ministry Matters offers a reflection as well as liturgical resources
Prayer for our Brave Men and Women by Beth McLendon
Veterans Day Prayers
“Today we remember all of our veterans past and present. We ask for the healing of those who have been wounded in body and soul, wounds both visible and invisible. We pray for those who have returned and those who are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, for those who served in Vietnam, Korea and World War II and live with injured bodies and traumatized spirits to receive your solace and healing.
We ask that those who are unable to pray for themselves will receive the blessings of our prayers offered on their behalf. Bring peace to those places where our women and men have fought. Bless those who served in non-combatant roles. May their service continue in their lives and may that service be positive for all of us.
Give us the vision to see a world in which all grow weary with war and fighting, and turn their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. These things we ask in the name of the Prince of Peace. Amen.”
–Rt. Rev. James “Jay” Magness, Episcopal Bishop of the Armed Forces
“Almighty God, we commend to your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad. Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations; give them courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
–The Book of Common Prayer
Did you enjoy this article? Consider subscribing to Building Faith and get every new post by email. It’s free and always will be. Subscribe to Building Faith.