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Councilman John Simpson will speak Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017 to Lakewood United about Veteran's Day. He shared his speech in advance, to educate people about the origins of Veteran's Day -- held each year on Nov. 11.

A Veteran's Day ceremony will be held at Lakewood City Hall (6000 Main St SW) Saturday from 1:30 to 3 p.m. The program begins at 2 p.m. and will include speeches from South Sound elected officials including U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, state Reps. Dick Muri and Christine Kilduff, Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier, Pierce County Council Chairman Doug Richardson and members of the Lakewood City Council.

The event will honor the 100-year anniversary of the country's entry into World War I and the 100th anniversary of the formation of Joint Base Lewis-McChord (formerly Camp Lewis).

The Lakewood City Council also recognized Veteran's Day at its regular council meeting Nov. 6, 2017.



Making a difference: Alvin King and Veteran's Day

By JM Simpson

This Saturday is Veterans’ Day, and it is a day wrapped in history. It is a day set aside to honor all veterans – past and present – in order to remember and thank them for their service.

This history surrounding this day is simple: On the 11th hour of the 11 day of the 11th month in November of 1918, the guns of war fell silent on the Western Front. 

World War I – The Great War – had ended.

On November 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the day Armistice Day in honor of World War I veterans.

“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,” said Wilson.

In 1938 Congress made Armistice Day a legal, federal holiday.

Then there was World War II, which left changes – big and small – on our country’s history and on the history of millions of people in our country.

One of those individuals was Alvin J. King. He lived in Emporia, Kansas; he repaired shoes for a living. King and his wife, Gertrude, had raised his nephew, John Eugene Cooper, since he had been orphaned at the age of 2.

Before WWII began, Cooper had enlisted in the Army. He had been assigned to the Emporia-based Company B, 137th Infantry Regiment, 35th Infantry Division, Kansas National Guard.

On December 23, 1940, Cooper was called to active duty, and on July 4, 1944 – one month after the Landing at Normandy – entered the fight in Europe.

During the Battle of the Bulge – the last attempt by the German army to break out of the allies’ tightening grip around Germany – Cooper was killed on December 20, 1944.

Alvin King experienced the loss of a young man whom he had raised as a son.

In the early 1950s, King began to advance the idea that Armistice Day should not just honor veterans of World War I; the day should honor all veterans. The citizens of Emporia, Kansas agreed with him, and on November 11, 1953, the city observed the first Veterans Day while the rest of the country celebrated Armistice Day.

Representative Edward Rees, who represented Emporia, liked the idea, and he introduced a bill in the House of Representatives to change the name of Armistice Day to Veterans Day.

The bill passed the House and the Senate.

President Dwight Eisenhower, who also was from Kansas, signed the bill on June 1, 1954. Invited by the president, Alvin King attended the signing. A man of modest means, King wore a suit that his neighbors had purchased for him.

On November 11, 1954 all of America celebrated Veterans Day, just as Americans will celebrate it this coming Saturday in Lakewood, Washington.

In 2003, Congress adopted a resolution declaring Emporia, Kansas as the “founding city of Veterans Day.”

One man – Alvin King - with the idea to honor all veterans made a difference in our remembrance of our country’s veterans.