Veteran’s Day as we know it didn’t exist when Roosevelt was President.
It wasn’t until November 1919 that President 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…” It was in honor of “The war to end all wars”.
Even though we did not have an “official” day at the time, Roosevelt acknowledged the sacrifices of those who came before, often citing those who fought in the Civil War in many speeches he presented. The importance of Patriotism, sacrifice and honor are prevalent in the majority of Roosevelt speeches.
TR also spent much time after the Spanish American War with his “Rough Riders”. These events were very popular with those who served, and even though Roosevelt wasn’t able to attend the 10th Anniversary, this gives you and idea of what many reunions must have been like:
Monday, Dec. 14, 1908
The Rough Riders, the regiment Theodore Roosevelt led in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, held their 10th annual reunion last night at the Union League Club. Roosevelt did not attend, but Major Gen. Leonard Wood, “the first Colonel of the Rough Riders,” did. Roosevelt’s regrets are quoted: “I wish I could be present at that dinner, but it is out of the question. Give my warmest regards to all present. The flag we carried is, I think, in Arizona. Personally, I should deem it very unwise to keep sending it around the country to the different reunions.” His wishes were not followed. “Col. Benson went to Arizona and got the flag. … The first toast drunk was ‘To the Dead,’ and was drunk in silence. Gen. Wood proposed the toast, ‘To the President of the United States.’ He told in an impromptu speech of the difficulties in clearing Santiago, and later Havana, of the yellow fever peril, also of his work in the Philippines, and said that, whatever he may have accomplished there, it was materially helped by the enthusiastic support given by President Roosevelt. … One of the most interesting features of the evening was the singing of the Rough Rider song by Col. Emerson. This song, which has about a thousand or so verses, was composed by Col. Emerson while the regiment was on duty in Cuba. It has been added to at almost every special occasion since. The chorus goes thus: ‘Rough Riders we are, from the West,/Green tenderfeet the rest,/Of mounted men the best./Rallied at Woods’ and Roosevelt’s behest/To carry our way to glory.’ Col. Emerson sang verses until he was tired, and early this morning the Rough Riders were still chanting the chorus as they went homeward.”
On a personal note, I would like to take a moment to thank those who served and to honor those who gave their lives so that we could be free. Thank you is not enough to say for all you have done.