Veterans Day is a time when we show our appreciation for those who served in one of the branches of the United States Armed Forces. The origins of the date that Veterans Day is celebrated dates back to November 11, 1918, when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, marking the unofficial end to the Great War (World War). The official end would come seven months later with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.
President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11, 1919, as the first celebration of Armistice Day. In his proclamation, Wilson said:
“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…”
The original intent of celebration on that day was parades, public meetings, and a temporary pause of business beginning at 11 am.
In 1954, Armistice Day became Veterans Day and on October 8 of that year, President Dwight Eisenhower issued the first “Veterans Day Proclamation,” stating:
“In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans’ organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans’ Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible.”
On Wednesday, November 11, 2020, the Los Angeles LGBT Center will host a virtual screening of the documentary Our Service, Our Stories: The Evolution of the LGBT Military Experience. The 21-minute film, according to the Center’s press release, “explores the lives and unique perspectives of LGBTQ veterans before, during, and after their military service.” The documentary was produced in 2019 by Los Angeles area LGBTQ veterans ages 50+ in a documentary filmmaking class sponsored by the Los Angeles LGBT Center as a part of its LGBTQ Senior Veterans Initiative.
Veterans highlighted in the documentary served between 1951 and 2017 in the Korean, Vietnam, and Gulf Wars; Afghanistan; Iraq; and current military outposts.
Kiera Pollock, the Center’s Director of Senior Services, said of the documentary project:
“I am immensely proud of our veterans who dedicated themselves to this creative project and ensured that the often invisible stories of LGBTQ service members are preserved and shared. With 10 film festivals under their belt, these veterans-turned-filmmakers are proof that you can learn new skills, share stories, and accomplish anything at any point of your life. Congratulations to all of them!”
Our Service, Our Stories: The Evolution of the LGBT Military Experience will be screened on Veterans Day at 11:00 a.m. PT at lalgbtcenter.org/watch and following Veterans Day, the film will available on the Center’s YouTube Channel.