The small business connection to Veterans’ Day

Veterans Day has its origins in Armistice Day, which was first acknowledged by President Wilson in 1919, on the first anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, that took place “in the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.” Congress made Armistice Day a national holiday on November 11, 1938.

Alvin King a small business owner in Emporia, Kansas, had a problem with Armistice Day. Al was so moved by the death of his nephew who was killed in World War II, that he, along with the Emporia Chamber of Commerce, started a movement to rename and redefine Armistice Day as Veterans Day. His goal was to expand the recognition beyond those who served in WWI. President Eisenhower made the change official in 1954.

But who should be recognized on Veterans Day? If you’re looking for the definition of a military veteran, good luck. There are several variations on that theme, and for good reason. The “veteran” universe is associated with significant financial benefits issues, so the sanctioning bodies have a lot at stake in, “Who qualifies as a veteran?”

But the most common technical definition of a veteran is someone who served on active duty while assigned to a U.S. armed services unit. But is there a case to be made for a practical definition of a veteran, especially on Veterans Day?

Perhaps Adam Smith offered the first practical definition of a veteran when he described in his 1776 book, “Wealth of Nations,” America’s “Minuteman” militia as those who “. . . turn from their primary citizen character into a standing army.” This militia, like all those that followed, were well represented by America’s small businesses.

So should our modern militia – Reserves and National Guard – be recognized on Veterans Day? Perhaps this justification can be found in Al King’s original motivation. The unit his nephew served in was Company B, 137th Infantry, Kansas National Guard, Emporia, Kansas.

On this Veterans Day, let’s honor all those who served in defense of our freedom by considering this definition of a veteran from an anonymous author: “A Veteran - whether active duty, retired, National Guard or Reserve - is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a check made payable to The United States of America, for an amount of: ‘Up to and including my life.’”

America has received this “check” from many different kinds of patriots who prepared themselves to be called to protect and defend their country.

Happy Veterans Day to all who made themselves available to their country.

One Response to “The small business connection to Veterans’ Day”

  1. 1
    Quinton Trachtenberg Says:

    Not as important to the readers maybe but it’s Memorial Day Weekend. If you’re presenting the US flag, I don’t know if you know that there are some rules of thumb to adhere to. I learned about it at a USMC Veterans online site –

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