The first Veterans Day held on November 11, 1918, was originally called “Armistice Day”, and commemorated the end of World War I. The day was made an official holiday in 1938. In 1954, Congress amended the commemoration, changing “Armistice Day” to “Veterans Day”, and changing the commemoration to honor veterans from all wars. For a while, Veterans Day was celebrated on the fourth Monday of October, until a law (Public Law 94-97) was finally passed in 1978, changing the date back to its original observance date of November 11th. Currently, veterans serving in the United States armed forces, living and dead, are honored for their service in wartime and in peace.
The Ursinus Library’s collections contain not only print books about the history, structure, and organization of the United States’ armed forces, mostly found on the second level of the library with Dewey call numbers covering 355-359, but also print books about the history of the wars fought before and after the creation of Veterans Day. These books have Dewey call numbers in the 900’s, currently located on the first and lower levels of the library, and arranged by the country or region in which the war was fought, including: World War I (940’s), World War II (940’s), the Korean War (950’s), the Vietnam War (950’s), the Gulf War (950’s), the Iraq War (950’s), and the War on Terrorism (973’s).
Personal narratives from veterans about their military service experiences abound in the library’s collections, both in print and e-book formats. One e-book compilation of particular note is:
Red White and True: Stories from Veterans and Families, World War II to Present, by Tracy Crow. Potomac Books, 2014. (E-book – only accessible to Ursinus Faculty, Students and Staff)
Another compilation of veterans’ personal narratives is: Voices of War: Stories of Service from the Home Front and the Front Lines, edited by Tom Wiener. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2004. Call number: 355.00922 V87. This print book contains selections of personal narratives covering World War I to Operation Desert Storm (1914-1991) from the Veterans History Project.
Personal narratives by United States military veterans are also included in the following books written by authors connected with Ursinus College:
We Knew We Were at War: Women Remember World War II, by Margaret Hewitt George. Doylestown, PA.: M.H. George, 2006. Doylestown, PA: M.H. George, 2006. Call number: 940.53082 W37. This book, written by Margaret Hewitt George, an alumna of the Class of 1949, is a mixture of personal narratives from civilians and female military veterans.
I Remember Trieste: a Post-World War II Army Memoir, by Donald Zucker. Philadelphia, PA: XLibris, 2003. Call number: 940.548173 Z83. Dr. Zucker, a former Ursinus College Political Science Professor, recounts his post-World War II army experiences in Trieste, Italy from 1947-1948.
In addition, brief correspondence from Ursinus College alumni serving in the armed forces during World War II can be found in the 1943-1944 issues of the Ursinus College Alumni Journal, in Ursinus College’s Digital Commons Repository.
As the country pauses to honor and salute the nation’s veterans on November 11th, please take the time to check out these sources and read about the veterans’ stories of service.