On Saturday, November 7, Black Warrior Riverkeeper teamed up with Cahaba Riverkeeper to celebrate Veterans Day early at Alabama Veterans Memorial Park in Birmingham. This beautiful park, located next to Mountain Brook High School, is dedicated to remembering and honoring veterans from Alabama and educating people about war, peace, and civic responsibility. In honor of that mission, volunteers showed their respect to those who have dedicated their lives to this country by removing 1,620 pounds of trash from the park and spreading awareness of this thoughtful memorial.
While Veterans Day is an important day throughout the country, Birmingham, Alabama holds a special place in the history of the day.
Originally November 11 was celebrated as Armistice Day, a day primarily set aside to honor veterans of World War I. In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “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…”. At the time World War I was known as the “Great War”, and Armistice Day was meant to both honor those who fought in the war and celebrate the new future that they created.
After World War II, Raymond Weeks, a World War II veteran from Alabama, realized that the day should be expanded to include all veterans. In 1947, Weeks led a delegation to Washington, D.C., to urge then-Army Chief of Staff General Dwight Eisenhower to create this new holiday. That same year, Weeks organized the first Veterans Day celebration in Birmingham, Alabama, although it wouldn’t become a national holiday for another 7 years.
Veterans Day is now an annual celebration of veterans of all wars, but it is also a day to reflect on our own civic responsibility. In keeping with this spirit, Black Warrior Riverkeeper is now working with AmeriCorps to promote service all year round.
To serve your community through Black Warrior Riverkeeper’s volunteer projects, visit blackwarriorriver.org/volunteer.