Category people in the United States

Veterans Day

n 1918, at eleven a. m., on the elev­enth day of the eleventh month, the world re­joiced and celebrated. After four years of bitter war, the Armistice between the Allies and Germans was signed. World War I, called the “war to end all wars,” was over.

November 11 was set aside as Armistice Day in the United States, to remember the sacrifices that men and women made during the war in order to ensure a lasting peace. On Armistice Day, soldiers who sur­vived the war marched in parades through their hometowns. Politicians and veteran officers gave speeches and held ceremonies of thanks for the peace they had won.

President Woodrow Wilson, in his Armistice Day proclamation in November 1919, 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 nation.

Congress voted Armistice Day a legal holiday in 1938, twenty years after the war ended. But Americans realized that the previous war would
not be the last one. World War II began the following year, and nations great and small again participated in a long and terrible struggle. After the Second World War, Armistice Day continued to be observed. But many veterans of World War II, and later the Korean War, had little connection to the First World War, and often felt that Armistice Day was not significant for them. They want­ed to make a change in the holiday to include veterans of other Ameri­can wars, not only World War I.

In 1953, townspeople in Em­poria, Kansas, celebrated the holi­day as “Veterans Day” in gratitude to the veterans in their town. Soon after, Congress passed a bill to re­name the day, and in 1954 Presi­dent Eisenhower officially changed the name of the national holiday to Veterans Day.

Traditional Veterans Day cele­brations, in many towns and cities, may include ceremonies, parades, concerts and speeches. At 11:00 in the morning, in some communities, Americans observe a moment of si­lence, remembering those who have fought in war. The President of the United States lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the National Ceme­tery in Arlington, Virginia, honor­ing all of America’s soldiers who have fallen in war.

After the United States’ in­volvement in the Vietnam War, the emphasis on Veterans Day activities



Подпись: ABOVE: This memorial of American servicemen raising the American flag was modeled after a World War II photo taken by Joe Rosenthal in Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945.

shifted. Now there are fewer military parades and cer­emonies, and people honor the day in a more introspec­tive and personal way. Veterans and their families gather at war memorials such as the Vietnam Veterans Memori­al in Washington, D. C., where they place gifts and stand in quiet vigil at the names, etched in granite, of their com­rades, friends, and relatives who died in the war. People often gather at other national monuments such as those dedicated to World War II and the Korean War, as well as at Arlington National Cemetery where U. S. veterans from any war may be buried. Throughout the United States, families who have lost sons, daughters, and other family members to war, lay flowers and wreaths at local monu­ments and gravesites, as they turn their thoughts toward peace and the avoidance of future wars.

The trials and hardships of veterans are honored and remembered through the National World War II (WWII)

Registry and the Veterans History Project. The WWII Memorial Reg­istry is an individual listing of

Americans who contributed to the war effort, comprised of those who signed up for the Registry of Remembrances as well as from other official U. S. gov­ernment lists. The Veterans History Project was created by the United States Congress and signed into law on October 2, 2000, by President Clinton. It is a project of the Library of Congress and it relies on volunteers to collect and preserve stories and accounts of U. S. veter­ans. The focus is primarily on 20th century military conflicts in which U. S. soldiers played a role: World War I (1914-1920), World War II (1939-1946), Korean War (1950-1955), Vietnam War (1961-1975), Persian Gulf War (1990-1995), though it also includes more recent conflicts. The Project collects oral history inter­views, memoirs, letters, diaries, photographs, and other original materials from veterans of these wars.

Surviving veterans of military service—today numbering more than 25 million—find support in organized groups such as the Amer­ican Legion and Veterans of For-


eign Wars. On Veterans Day and Memorial Day, these groups raise funds for their charitable activities that support disabled veterans and their families. There are also organizations for veterans who oppose war, such as Veterans for Peace, a national organization begun in 1985 that works to raise public awareness of the conse­quences of war and seeks peaceful alternatives to war.

By remembering veterans and all that they went through, perhaps the leaders of nations will strive to find peaceful solutions to world problems, using war only as a very last resort.


rejoice(d): v. celebrate with joy; to be happy bitter: adj. difficult to bear; distasteful

etch(ed): v. carve on stone or other hard surface wreath(s): n. an arrangement of flowers or leaves in a ring, used for decoration avoidance: n. act of preventing

trial(s): n. a situation that tests a person’s endurance or tolerance

registry: n. an official list comprise(d): v. to consist of; to be made up of memoir(s): n. a written account of one’s memory of cer­tain events

American Legion: phrase. a national association of former servicemen and servicewomen charitable: adj. relating to assistance to people in need disabled: adj. a person having a physical or mental condi­tion that limits his or her movement, senses, or activities

armistice: n. an agreement to end fighting; a truce Allies: n. those nations (primarily the British Empire,

France, and the Russian Empire) that joined together

in opposition to the Central Powers (Germany, Austria – Hungary, and Turkey) during World War I sacrifice(s): n. giving up of important things ensure: v. to make certain; to guarantee parade(s): n. a public procession or display of people, animals, and/or formations moving in a single line politician(s): n. an elected government official veteran: n. a member of the armed forces, now retired or discharged

proclamation: n. an official or public announcement reflection(s): n. the thought or opinion or remark made after consideration of something heard or read or an event

solemn: adj. serious

heroism: n. conduct having qualities of a hero gratitude: n. thankfulness

sympathy: n. association (with); inclination (to)

council(s): n. a committee or legal body appointed or

chosen to carry out a set of objectives

participate(d): v. to be actively involved in

struggle: n. a great effort; a fight; a war

significant: adj. meaningful; important

bill: n. a proposed law in government

observe(d): v. to respect or follow a law or custom

fallen: (adj) killed in battle

shift(ed): v. to change

vigil: n. watchful, solemn guard

The Liberty Bell

“Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”

The sight and sound of a ringing bell on the Fourth of July symbolizes freedom to most Americans and brings to mind the Liberty Bell, which rang out in Phil­adelphia when the new country was born.

The Liberty Bell once hung in the Old State House, which later became Independence Hall, in Philadelphia. It was rung at every important national event, such as presidential elections, statesmen’s funerals, and of course, the Fourth of July. The bell came to Philadelphia from a foundry in England in 1752. But the very first time the bell was rung, it cracked! Repairs were made and for the next eighty-three years, the bell tolled on special occasions—the most significant on July 8, 1776 to an­nounce the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Sometime after 1846, the Liberty Bell cracked again and it was removed from the bell tower to protect it from further damage. It was placed on display in Inde­pendence Hall. Today, the bell is housed in the Liberty Bell Center, which is open to visitors year round, and is part of the Independence National Historic Park.

At one time, the foundry in England that had made the bell generously offered to take the cracked bell, melt it down and cast it anew, at no charge. But Amer­ican officials decided to keep the old Liberty Bell as it was. They felt that the American people loved the old bell, and that the crack in the bell was a cherished part of its character and legacy.

America, The Beautiful

From time to time, it is suggested that the song, “America the Beautiful” be made the national anthem, in place of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” [See Flag Day, p. 87] Proponents of this idea argue that “America the Beautiful” is a better national an­them because it praises the whole country, not only the flag, and it was not written as a result of a war.




Labor Day



LEVEN-YEAR-OLD Peter McGuire sold papers on the street in New York City. He shined shoes and cleaned stores, and later ran errands. It was 1863 and his father, a poor Irish immigrant, had just enlisted to fight in the Civil War. Peter had to help support his mother and six brothers and sisters.

In the nineteenth century, many immigrants from Europe and else­where settled in New York City, Chi­cago, and other major areas of the United States. They found that living conditions were not as wonderful as they had dreamed. Many immigrants lived in the poorest ghettos of the city in run-down housing. Often there were six families crowded into a house made for one family.

Working conditions were even worse. Immigrant men, women, and even very young children worked in factories, cloth and steel mills, coalmines, and in construction. They worked under dismal conditions, for twelve to four­teen hours a day, often seven days a week. They were allowed to stop only for a short time to eat, and received no vacations or benefits. They came to work even if they were sick, because if they didn’t, they could be fired. Thousands of people were waiting to take their places. In those days, there was no concept of workers’ rights, and fac­tory owners could treat workers as they wished. Immigrant workers were especially vulnerable.

When Peter McGuire was seventeen, he began an apprenticeship in a piano shop. This job was better than his previous jobs, for he was learning a trade, but he still worked long hours with low pay. At night he went to meetings and classes in economics and social issues of the day. One of the main issues of concern pertained to labor conditions. Workers were tired of long hours, low pay, unsafe working environments and uncer­tain jobs. They spoke of organizing themselves into a union of laborers to improve their working condi­tions. In the spring of 1872, Peter McGuire and 100,000 workers went on strike and marched through the streets, demanding a decrease in the long working day.

This event convinced Peter that an organized labor movement was important for the future of workers’ rights. He spent the next year speak­ing to crowds of workers and unem­ployed people, and lobbying the city government for jobs and relief money. It was not an easy road for Peter McGuire. He became known as a “disturber of the public peace.” The city government ignored his demands. Peter developed a reputation among business owners as a troublemaker, and he could not find a job in his trade. He began to travel up and down the East Coast to speak to laborers about unionizing. In 1881, he moved to St. Louis, Missouri, and began to organize carpenters there. He organized a convention

Подпись: I Hear America Singing Walt Whitman The American poet, Walt Whitman, conveys a romanticized picture of labor as he celebrates the spirit and contributions of the American worker in this famous poem. I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear: Those ofmechanics—each one singing his, as it should be, blithe and strong; The carpenter singing his, as he measures his plank or beam, The mason singing his, as he makes ready for work, or leaves for work; The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat—the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck; The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench—the hatter singing as he stands; The woodcutter’s song—the plowboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission, or at sundown; The delicious singing of the mother—or of the young wife at work—or of the girl sewing or washing Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else; The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly, Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

of carpenters in Chicago, and it was at this event that a national union of carpenters was founded. He became General Secretary of the United Brotherhood of Car­penters and Joiners of America.

The idea of organizing workers according to their trades spread around the country. Factory workers, dockworkers, and toolmakers all began to demand and get their rights to an eight-hour workday, a secure job, and a future in their trades. Peter McGuire and la­borers in other cities decided to plan a holiday for workers, both as a tribute to their contributions to the nation, and as a means of bringing more public aware­ness to their struggles. They chose the first Monday in September, a date midway between Independence Day and Thanksgiving.

On September 5, 1882 the first Labor Day parade was held in New York City. Twenty thousand workers marched in the parade up Broadway. They carried banners that read “LABOR CREATES ALL WEALTH,” and “EIGHT HOURS FOR WORK; EIGHT HOURS FOR REST; EIGHT HOURS FOR RECREATION!” After the parade, there were picnics all around the city. Workers and celebrants ate Irish stew, homemade bread, and apple pie. At night, fire­
works were set off. Within the next few years, the idea of a day to honor workers spread from coast to coast, and all states celebrated Labor Day. In 1894, Congress voted it a national holiday.

Today we celebrate Labor Day with less fanfare on the first Monday of September. Some cities have parades and community picnics. Many politicians “kick off” their political campaigns by holding rallies on the holiday. Most Americans consider Labor Day the end of the summer, and the beaches and other pop­ular resort areas are packed with people enjoying one last three-day weekend. For many students, the new school year begins right after Labor Day.


immigrant: n. person who moves permanently to an­other country

condition(s): n. circumstance; life situation ghetto(s): n. defined area of a town or city where a cer­tain ethnic or cultural group lives

run-down: adj. needing much repair; in bad condition because of neglect

dismal: adj. miserable and depressing fire(d): v. to dismiss from a job

concept: n. idea; notion

vulnerable: adj. unprotected; easily harmed or taken advantage of

apprenticeship: n. on-the-job training for someone new to the field pertain(ed): v. relate to

organize(ing): v. to form an association for a goal or purpose

union: n. an organization of workers

on strike: idiom. not working as a protest against


labor movement: n. phrase. political activities to im­prove the conditions of laborers lobby(ing): v. to urge officials or members of Congress to vote a certain way on an issue ignore(d): v. pay no attention to; disregard reputation: n. public opinion about the quality of someone’s character

unionize(ing): v. to form a legal union or group convention: n. large meeting generally to learn about and discuss issues

joiner(s): n. carpenter who makes desks, chairs, and

other furniture that is put together from pieces

fanfare: n. large, noisy celebration or show

kick off: v. to begin, launch, commence

rally(ies): n. meeting held to arouse public interest and


pack(ed): v. to fill as fully as possible