In 1954, the United States officially designated Nov. 11 as Veterans Day, a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
Veterans Day has special resonance in West Virginia, a state that was born out of the conflict that became the Civil War. Ever since the bloody war between the states, West Virginia has sent more than its share of residents off to fight for the U.S. in conflicts around the world. Many of those service men and women have come from this region, and their sacrifice has been great.
West Virginia had the highest death rate of any state during the Vietnam War, with an average of 84 out of every 100,000 males in the state dying in the conflict, according to the National Vietnam Veterans Foundation. The national average was 59 males out of every 100,000.
An estimated 40,000 to 46,000 West Virginians fought in the Civil War, with about 20,000 to 36,000 on the Union side, and about 10,000 to 20,000 fighting for the Confederacy, according to the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.
Records show that 58,053 West Virginians fought in World War I, and 233,985 Mountain State residents served in World War II. In the Korean Conflict, 112,000 West Virginians served, while 36,578 fought during the Vietnam era. About 12,000 West Virginians served in the Gulf War from 1990-1991 (all figures courtesy of the state Division of Culture and History).
With so much history and such a tradition of military service in West Virginia, we encourage all local residents to take part in Veterans Day events, such as the ceremony scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday at the All Veterans Monument at the corner of Harrison Avenue and All Veterans Drive in Elkins.
Veterans are living, breathing heroes, and we thank and salute them for their sacrifice and service.