Half Of Veterans Day Program Postponed

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Payson is going to have to wait until Memorial Day to enjoy what was going to be the first half of Payson's Veterans Day program.

Due to the abnormally heavy rainfalls of the past several weeks, the ground at Green Valley Park is too soft and wet to accommodate many of the activities planned for Saturday morning, said Lee Pretsch, one of the program's co-organizers.

"The construction site of the Veterans' Memorial (which was to be dedicated Saturday) is still full of water, and all of the people and military vehicles we would have been bringing into the park would just cause too much damage (to the grounds) right now," Pretsch said.

"We hate to postpone it, because we know it's going to disappoint a lot of people. But we really had no choice," she said. "We've heard that it's supposed to rain Saturday morning, too."

In addition to the Veterans' Memorial site dedication, the morning half of the full-day program, to have started at 10 a.m., was to include fly-overs by World War I, WWII and Vietnam-era airplanes, a demonstration of Payson's new Medivac helicopter, static displays of military vehicles, and presentations by the Arizona National Guard Color Guard, as well as the Payson High School band and choir.

Also postponed until next Memorial Day Monday, May 28 was an opportunity, originally scheduled for noon, for Veterans Day revelers to inspect the airplanes and meet the pilots.

Still set for Saturday, however, is the second half of the program, to begin at 4 p.m. in the Payson High School auditorium.

Hosted by KMOG radio's Don Holcombe, the Third Annual Veterans' Show will feature performances by the Rim Civic Orchestra, the Payson Choral Society, singer John Carpino accompanied by pianist Barry Cardinael, and "The Veterans' Variety Show," presenting a musical-comedy salute to USO shows titled, "Thanks for the Memories."

During this program, special recognition will be given to the military services, as well as Gold Star Mothers.

The program is scheduled to end at 5:30 p.m.

At a glance

What: Veterans Day celebration

When: 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 11

Where: Payson High School auditorium

Host: KMOG's Don Holcombe

Program: "The Third Annual Veterans' Show," with performances by the Rim Civic Orchestra, the Payson Choral Society, singer John Carpino, pianist Barry Cardinael, and "Thanks for the Memories," a USO-style revue with music, dancing and comedy skits.

Tracing the history of Veterans Day

In 1921, an unknown World War I American soldier was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. This site, on a hillside overlooking the Potomac River and the city of Washington, became the focal point of reverence for America's veterans.

Similar ceremonies occurred earlier in England and France, where an unknown soldier was buried in each nation's highest place of honor in England, Westminster Abbey; in France, the Arc de Triumphe. These memorial gestures all took place Nov. 11, giving universal recognition to the celebrated ending of WWI fighting at 11 a.m. Nov. 11, 1918 the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. The day was called "Armistice Day."

Armistice Day officially received its name in America in 1926 through a Congressional resolution. It became a national holiday 12 years later by similar Congressional action. If the idealistic hope had been realized that WWI was "the war to end all wars," Nov. 11 might still be called Armistice Day. But only a few years after the holiday was proclaimed, war broke out in Europe, and 16.5 million Americans took part. Four hundred seven thousand of them died in service, more than 292,000 in battle.

A day of honor for all veterans

An answer to the question of how to pay tribute to those who had served in this latest, great war came in a proposal made by Representative Edwin K. Rees of Kansas: Change Armistice Day to Veterans Day, and make it an occasion to honor those who have served America in all wars. In 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower signed a bill proclaiming Nov. 11 Veterans Day.

On Memorial Day 1958, two more unidentified American war dead were brought from overseas and interred in the plaza beside the unknown soldier of WWI. One was killed in WWII, the other in the Korean War.

In 1973, a law passed providing interment of an unknown American from the Vietnam War, but none was found for several years. In 1984, an unknown serviceman from that conflict was placed alongside the others. To honor these men, symbolic of all Americans who gave their lives in all wars, an Army honor guard, the 3rd U.S. Infantry, keeps day and night vigil.

A law passed in 1968 changed the commemoration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October, but it soon became apparent that Nov. 11 was a date of historic significance to many Americans. Therefore, in 1978, Congress returned the observance to its traditional date.

To contact the Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., call (703) 607-8052. (Source: http://www.va.gov/pubaff/celebAm/vetday.htm.)

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