This Veterans Day we salute our Veterans and extend our gratitude for their service. On this day, let us step back, pause and salute all who have served and honor the tremendous sacrifices made by the members of the U.S. armed forces and their families. Today and every day, we thank these men and women for preserving our freedom, upholding patriotic values and honor for our country.
Kansas is deeply and uniquely tied to Veterans Day. In 1953 Emporia, Kansas resident Alvin J. King proposed that Armistice Day (international day of remembrance) be changed to Veterans Day to recognize and honor all veterans from all wars and conflicts. The holiday was first organized and celebrated in Emporia in 1953.
Kansas’ involvement didn’t end there. Kansas Congressman Ed Rees took the Veterans Day proposal to Congress. On May 26, 1954, President Eisenhower signed a bill into law changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day, to honor all U.S. military veterans on November 11th. The first nationwide observance of the new holiday was on November 11, 1954. Emporia, Kansas is proud to be the Official Founding City of Veterans Day and observes this national holiday for All Veterans Tribute Week.
Leavenworth, Kansas is home to the oldest Veterans Day observance in the nation and the largest parade west of the Mississippi. The first parade/observance, originally a celebration of Armistice Day, was on November 11, 1919, organized by Leavenworth business owner William Small of the William Small and Company Dry Goods. All businesses including banks were closed, as well as all public schools. All downtown storefront windows displayed patriotic themes and were kept covered until 11 a.m. when they were unveiled and judged. The Hines Band gave a concert at Fourth and Delaware Streets, community singing, and athletic contests took place until 2:20 p.m., when the automobiles and civic organizations began a line parade from the courthouse. The 2020 parade theme is “2nd Century of Honoring our Veterans’. You can find out more information about the parade here.
Kansas has over 300 Veterans Memorials across the state. Veterans Memorial Park, Olathe is a state and national award-winning memorial featuring the only Four Chaplains Memorial in the Midwest. One of Kansas’ newest memorials, Baxter Springs Veterans Memorial is set in a beautiful park. Wichita’s Veterans Memorial Park is 4.5 acres and is one of three in Sedgewick County that houses a Berlin Airlift Memorial. There is also the Bicentennial Flag Pavilion, 19 memorials representing six wars and every branch of the military, and the Veterans Memorial Walk along the Arkansas River.
You can find more Kansas Veterans Memorials here.