By Dennis R. Pierce
BLET National President
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, November 10 — Veterans Day was first celebrated in 1938 when it was known as Armistice Day. Armistice Day was primarily instituted to honor veterans of World War I. After World War II, which required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen in the Nation”s history, and after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress changed the name of the holiday by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting the word “Veterans.” This was done at the urging of veterans” service organizations in order to include veterans who served in all American wars. With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all past and future wars.
Veterans Day is of particular importance to the membership of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen. Our Brotherhood was founded on May 8, 1863, and many of our earliest members were veterans of the Civil War. Since that time, our Organization has proudly represented members who served in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Desert Shield, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The tragic events of September 11, 2001, are a touchstone for members of today’s military. Many of the brave women and men serving our country cite 9-11 as the reason they volunteered to serve America and fight for our freedom. Indeed, many of today’s soldiers were not even of age on that tragic September day 16 years ago, but so strong were their convictions that they joined the military as soon as they turned 18 years old. Today, the BLET proudly represents 52 members who are currently on active duty. These Brothers and Sisters proudly carry on the traditions established by our founding fathers.
We are grateful for the sacrifices our veterans have made — and continue to make — on our behalf. We are also grateful to the families of our veterans who must somehow carry on with their normal lives while their loved ones are performing their dangerous duties overseas. We also carry those veterans and their families who have made the ultimate sacrifice in our thoughts and prayers.
Our way of life and the freedoms we enjoy are due in large part to our veterans. One of the most important freedoms we have is the ability to vote in open elections, and I would encourage all eligible BLET members to exercise that right by participating in the voting process for the BLET’s Tentative National Agreement. Ballots were mailed on Thursday, November 9, and votes are due by Thursday, November 30. Please visit the National Division website (http://www.ble-t.org) to educate yourself and familiarize yourself with the issues.
On behalf of the entire Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, I salute the millions of veterans and active-duty soldiers. You are the protectors of the greatest nation on earth, and your sacrifices and devotion have preserved our way of life and our freedoms for generations. I ask all BLET members to join me in thanking veterans — and their families — on this Veterans Day.