Honoring those who have served on Veterans Day in Cordova

In front of our home on Odiak Slough, an American flag flies daily, including on Nov. 11, to honor our country and all those that have served in our Armed Forces. Photo by Dick Shellhorn/The Cordova Times
This year’s Veterans Day flag ceremony drew more participants than any previous year, organizers said. (Nov. 11, 2020) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

By perhaps appropriate coincidence, this week’s feature recognizing bridges named in honor of Cordovans lost in World War I closely coincides with Nov. 11, which is Veterans Day.

On Nov. 11, 1919, it was originally proclaimed to be Armistice Day by President Woodrow Wilson, in honor of all Americans who served in World War I.

The date was chosen to coincide with the day in 1918, when at exactly 11 a.m. Nov. 11, the Allied powers, consisting of the United States, Britain and France, signed a ceasefire agreement with Germany at Rethondes, France, to bring that conflict to a close.

Seven Cordovans perished in what was called “The War to End All Wars,” because at the time it was unthinkable to imagine the carnage caused by modern weapons would ever be repeated.

In 1954, Armistice Day was re-designated as Veterans Day, to include those who served in WWII, as well as all who have served throughout the years since then.

Jacob Moeller plants a flag at Cordova Cemetery in observance of Veterans Day. (Nov. 11, 2020) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

Veterans Day is a federal holiday and also a state holiday in all states except Wisconsin, and traditionally the U.S. flag is flown throughout the country in recognition of this day.

Many places have parades and special ceremonies to honor veterans. In Cordova, businesses, government offices and individuals fly the American flag, and several offices are closed.

The poppy is also a symbol of Veterans Day. The choice of this small red flower by the National American Legion in 1920 was inspired by the World War I poem “In Flanders Fields,” in which the opening lines refer to poppies that were the first flowers to grow in the soil from soldiers’ graves in the Flanders region of Belgium, site of some of the worst losses in WWI.

Locally, members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) traditionally distribute small American flags and paper poppies on Main Street during the Fourth of July celebration.

They also place small U.S. flags on the bridge signs and veterans’ graves in Cordova on the Fourth of July, Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

Bracing against harsh winds, Wendy Ranney addresses a gathering in observance of Veterans Day. (Nov. 11, 2020) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times
Despite blustering winds, volunteers gathered to raise the flag at Cordova Cemetery in observance of Veterans Day. (Nov. 11, 2020) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times