Veterans Corner: The Meaning of Veterans Day

by Jim Pedersen, VSO & Director of Moore County Veterans Service Office

“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…” President Woodrow Wilson’s proclamation establishing Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day, Nov. 1919. Armistice Day later became Veterans Day.

One of the most gratifying parts of my job at the Moore County Veterans Service Office is talking with veterans from all walks of life who have selflessly served their country. It’s an honor to meet them, listen to their stories, and help them access the benefits and services that they earned and deserve. Moore County Veterans Service Office staff members have the opportunity every day to thank someone for their military service. On Nov. 11, Veterans Day, we all have an opportunity to express our gratitude to our nation’s veterans, both living and deceased. 

The Veterans Day observance dates back to 1919, when Woodrow Wilson designated Nov. 11 as Armistice Day to honor and acknowledge veterans following World War I. The date set for the observance was not coincidental.  World War I officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919 although combat ceased when an armistice between Germany and the Allied nations went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. Thus Nov. 11, 1918 is generally regarded as the end of WWI.

In 1938, an Act of Congress officially set aside Nov. 11 as a legal holiday known as Armistice Day, primarily to honor WWI veterans. Following WWII and the Korean Conflict, the 83rd Congress officially changed the name of the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day. President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Congressional act into law on June 1, 1954, and Veterans Day became a day to honor Americans who served in all wars.

Here in Moore County, the Moore County Veterans Memorial Committee dedicated a permanent memorial to honor the county’s veterans on Nov. 11, 2006. Raymond Doby, a county resident whose brother was killed in action in Italy during WWI, presented the idea to the county commissioners, and today, the memorial he envisioned sits in a quiet, wooded area on 15/501 near the intersection of Highway 24/27 in Carthage.  Holding place of honor at the front of the memorial are two black granite slabs inscribed with the names of county residents who were killed in action over the last 100 years. Behind are nearly 30 granite slabs bearing the names of 10,000 county veterans. 

The names carved into the granite slabs are tangible reminders of the members of our own community who served, some of whom gave their lives in service. Ruby Hendrick, secretary/treasurer of the Veterans Memorial Committee, was a member of the planning committee for the memorial. She noted there were very few families in Moore County who did not lose someone in World War II. Many of those names are memorialized on the granite stones. Visitors to the memorial will often place coins atop the stone bearing the name of their fallen comrade or loved one to show that they are not forgotten.

 “My husband, brother, brother-in-law were veterans,” Ruby said. “It has truly been one of my greatest blessings to be able to work with this. I have been up there many times to help someone find a name. It is a joy to do something for them.”

This Veterans Day, I urge you to embrace the spirit of Woodrow Wilson’s proclamation by taking the opportunity to thank and honor the veterans in your family and in your community. Activities celebrating veterans are planned throughout the month of November.

Moore County kicks off its Veterans Day activities with a memorial service on Saturday, Nov. 2 at 11 a.m. at the Veterans Memorial in Carthage. The ceremony is being held a week early this year in an effort to allow people to attend and participate in the Veterans Day parades and celebrations in other parts of the county. A barbecue lunch and drinks will be available.

On Friday, Nov. 15, The Moore County Veterans Service Office will host an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Agricultural Building, 707 Pinehurst Ave., Carthage. Veterans organizations, businesses, Moore County services and government agencies and social service groups will be on hand with information and assistance. Moore County Veterans Service Officers and staff members will be available to answer questions, provide information and schedule appointments. The public is invited and encouraged to attend. For more information, contact the Moore County Veterans Service Office at 910-947-3257.

  • Once a year, the Moore County Veterans Memorial Committee updates the Veterans Memorial in Carthage by adding names to the granite slabs. Veterans do not have to be deceased to have their name placed on the memorial. 
  • The cost to have a name added is $30. Names of veterans who were killed in action are placed on the memorial free of charge.
  • Veterans must have been born in Moore County or have lived in Moore County at one time to be eligible. DD-214 or separation papers are necessary to verify military service. If the official documentation is not available, a photo of a government grave marker is acceptable verification.
  • The Moore County Veterans Service Office has application forms for inscriptions on the Veterans Memorial. To get an application, call the office at 910-947-3257 or stop in at 707 Pinehurst Ave., Carthage. No appointments are necessary to pick up an application form.

VSO Jim Pedersen, right, is the director of the Moore County Veterans Service Office. Experienced nationally-certified VSOs Kelly Greene, and Robert “Bob” Hall, a Vietnam-era veteran who retired from the Army after 30 years of service, assist Moore County veterans with their disability claims.