Veterans Day: President honors those in armed forces, Rockford native’s company offers employment and support to disabled vets

November 11, 2011

Online Staff Report

The United States observes its 92nd Veterans Day (formerly Armistice Day) Friday, Nov. 11.

Veterans Day was first observed as Armistice Day on Nov. 11, 1919, marking the one-year anniversary of the cease-fire agreement that ended World War I in 1918.

In proclaiming Armistice Day in 1919, President Woodrow Wilson declared: “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.”

Nov. 11 is still recognized in Europe and elsewhere as Armistice or Remembrance Day. However, the United States changed the name of the holiday to observe all veterans in 1954, following an effort by Alvin King, an Emporia, Kan., shoe repair shop owner.

King, who had been involved with American War Dads during World War II, felt the holiday should celebrate all veterans, not just those who died in World War I. U.S. Rep. Ed Rees, also from Emporia, Kan., took up King’s cause, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the switch from Armistice Day to Veterans Day into law May 26, 1954.

To mark the 92nd observance of the holiday Nov. 11, 2011, President Barack Obama will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington County, Va., just outside Washington, D.C.

Obama will also travel to San Diego to speak on U.S. Navy carrier the USS Carl Vinson. He will also attend a special Veterans Day basketball game between Michigan State University and the University of North Carolina on the carrier.

In his Veterans Day proclamation, Obama declared: “Today, our Nation comes together to honor our veterans and commemorate the legacy of profound service and sacrifice they have upheld in pursuit of a more perfect Union. Through their steadfast defense of America’s ideals, our service members have ensured our country still stands strong, our founding principles still shine, and nations around the world know the blessings of freedom. As we offer our sincere appreciation and respect to our veterans, to their families, to those who are still in harm’s way, and to those we have laid to rest, let us rededicate ourselves to serving them as well as they have served the United States of America.”

Click here to read Obama’s full Veterans Day proclamation.

The U.S. is celebrating Veterans Day less than two months before troops are to leave Iraq. U.S. casualties in the war in Iraq have totaled 4,476, with 32,102 wounded. Nearly 100,000 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan, where a complete withdrawal is expected by the end of 2014.

Locally, many events are planned in recognition of Veterans Day. Events are listed in The Rock River Times’ Community Calendar, which can be viewed by clicking here.

One company with local ties is working to offer employment to disabled veterans.

Rockford native Noah Currier, president and founder of Oscar Mike apparel company, explained: “We started this company as a means to offer gainful employment for injured veterans and a way to market the foundation in a unique fashion that resonates with all generations of veterans. Another reason we found it necessary was that we were trying to find cool military apparel that was made here in the United States, but couldn’t. The existing market for military apparel, from what our research shows, is all made overseas.”

Currier and his staff of disabled veterans all understand firsthand that meeting goals physically will lead to setting and meeting more rehabilitation goals for disabled veterans in their future.

Currier, who recently participated in the DAV Winter Sports Clinic, the VA Summer Sports Clinic, and competed in the PVA National Veteran Wheelchair Games, said: “We can relate to the disabled veterans that we are helping, because we have been in their shoes. Oscar Mike is dedicated to ensuring that all veterans and service members remain active and vigilant in order to live fulfilling lives.”

Oscar Mike also offers custom apparel orders for military units, schools and operations for all military branches and civilian service organizations. The apparel company can also do special orders for any team, company, fire and police department, or other mass order needed. Ten percent of proceeds from the apparel are donated to the Oscar Mike Foundation, which assists disabled veterans.

Donations received by the Oscar Mike Foundation will afford disabled veterans the ability to participate in adaptive sporting events, pursue further education, receive job training, and other means of getting veterans back “on-the-move” and becoming productive members of society.

To learn more about the 100 percent veteran owned and operated Oscar Mike and its 100 percent American-made apparel line, visit oscarmike.org or oscarmikefoundation.org.

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