(Extensions of Remarks - August 03, 2012)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E1441-E1442]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                          HON. SPENCER BACHUS

                               of alabama

                    in the house of representatives

                        Thursday, August 2, 2012

  Mr. BACHUS. Mr. Speaker, honoring our veterans and their families for 
the sacrifices they have made to protect the freedoms that we enjoy as 
Americans is not only proper, but a privilege that should always be 
  On November 11, 2012, Birmingham, Alabama will mark its 65th 
consecutive year of serving as a national model for the commemoration 
of Veterans Day. Birmingham's Veterans Day ceremonies are the oldest 
and largest in our country. The legacy extends across generations.
  Birmingham's reputation as ``the cradle of National Veterans Day'' 
first took root in the final months of World War II.
  Originally, November 11 was recognized as Armistice Day to solemnly 
commemorate the end of World War I, which was supposedly the ``war to 
end all wars.''
  Barely more than two decades later, America's soldiers would be again 
called to duty, this time to confront the gravest threat to individual 
freedom in world history.
  As World War II ended with the defeat of the Axis powers, 
Birmingham's Raymond Weeks, a Navy veteran, began a new mission that 
would define the rest of his life: ensuring that the service and 
sacrifices of all of America's men and women in uniform would not be 
  In 1945, the concept of a National Veterans Day became fixed in his 
mind. In 1946, he personally took a petition and a proposed program, 
``National Veterans Day 1947,'' urging the creation of a national 
holiday to honor all veterans to General Dwight Eisenhower, who was 
then the Army Chief of Staff. In 1954, then-President Eisenhower signed 
legislation formally establishing November 11 as Veterans Day.
  In presenting the Presidential Citizens Medal to Raymond Weeks on 
Veterans Day

[[Page E1442]]

1982, President Reagan said, ``Mr. Weeks has exemplified the finest 
traditions of American volunteerism by his unselfish service to his 
country. As director of the National Veterans Day Celebration in 
Birmingham for the past years, Raymond Weeks, a World War II veteran 
himself, has devoted his life to serving others, his community, the 
American veteran, and the Nation. He was the driving force behind the 
congressional action which in 1954 established this special holiday as 
a day to honor all America's veterans.''
  The tradition of respect and honor established by National Veterans 
Day in Birmingham would be ably carried on by Raymond Weeks' successor, 
Colonel Bill Voigt. To this pivotal position of community leadership, 
Colonel Voigt brought his experience from the Alabama Air National 
Guard and U.S. Air Force Reserves and a deep and abiding concern for 
our veterans. His dedication went above and beyond duty. New leadership 
has been tasked to continue this tradition.
  As we look toward the 65th anniversary of America's first Veterans 
Day and to 2014, the 60th anniversary of the legal holiday, we can cast 
our vision. It is to continue to honor our veterans.
  We would do well by restoring emphasis on General Eisenhower's 
request of Raymond Weeks in 1947 for Veterans Day to perpetuate world 
peace: ``I wish you every success in your purpose of arousing all 
American citizens to the need for cooperating among ourselves to the 
utmost to achieve the greatest of all goals--assurance of enduring 
  The history of Veterans Day is a lesson in character education that 
can be used to inspire students to learn ``living history'' from our 
veterans. Alabama teaches character traits daily, including those 
illuminated by the history of the founding of Veterans Day--patriotism, 
courage, perseverance, loyalty and citizenship. Raymond Weeks 
demonstrated these qualities in his pursuit of the creation of a 
National Veterans Day and stands as an example of good citizenship for 
all students and every generation.
  The symmetry of service has been a powerful constant through the 
generations in Alabama.
  As an example, recently a rededication was held for the Rainbow 
Viaduct Memorial in Birmingham, which commemorates the heroism of the 
167th Alabama Infantry during World War I. At that same ceremony, 
members of the modern-day 167th Alabama National Guard were recognized 
as they prepared for deployment to Afghanistan. Almost a century apart, 
the challenges may be different but the ethos of service and duty 
remains the same.
  It is important to remember both what we honor and who we honor on 
Veterans Day. We honor soldiers and their devotion to freedom, yes. But 
we reflect that these are people around us who have willingly and 
unselfishly served on our behalf: fathers and mothers, sons and 
daughters, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, grandparents, a 
favorite uncle or cousin, a high school buddy or college roommate, a 
best friend or a childhood playmate.
  Some we have joyfully welcomed back from an assignment or waved at 
during a parade. Others we thank at their gravesite, shedding a tear in 
their memory. We thank them for their sacrifice, bravery, and 
patriotism. We forget none of them.
  This is what inspires us as we prepare for the annual observance of 
Veterans Day this coming November, and it is what continues to motivate 
my native Birmingham to set the highest standard for honoring those who 
have preserved the precious gift of freedom for all of us.