Veterans’ day dates back to the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 when an armistice between Germany and the Allied nations came into effect, bringing an end to World War I. On Nov. 11, 1919, Armistice Day was proclaimed by President Wilson and commemorated United States’ Veterans who served in World War I for the first time.
In 1926, the United States Congress officially recognized Nov. 11 as the end of World War I and declared that day as the anniversary of the armistice.
From that point on, each year on Nov. 11, those who serve and have served in the armed forces are recognized for their commitment to keeping the country and its citizens safe from harm. From men on the front line to women working beside and even those military animals that are right there next to them, whether it be the Army, Navy, National Guard, Air Force, or Coast Guard – all are celebrated on this day.
Melissa Horsey from the Lamar County Veterans Office is one such veteran who served her country and said it was an honor to have been able to do so over a 20-year career span.
Horsey, who grew up in Bogata, served in the United States Navy throughout her career and retired as a Hospital Corpsman.
“I started college at a young age, and I decided I wanted a career and couldn’t think of anything more than joining the service,” she said.
As a Hospital Corpsman, those in this field of the Navy can be trained to perform several jobs including but not limited to; performing emergency medical treatment on SEALs, Seabees, Marines and other military personnel injured in the field. Performing emergency dental treatment as well as construct dental crowns and bridges, process dental X-rays, and operate X-ray equipment. Serve as an operating room technician for general and specialized surgery. Help administer a wide range of preventive care and medications, including immunizations and intravenous fluids. Maintain patient treatment records, conduct research, and perform clinical tests.
For Horsey, she said, “I provided patient care to active duty military, their dependents, and retirees. I served with the Marine Corps while being a corpsman for ten years and the hospital for ten years.”
Horsey, during her two-decade career, also deployed with the service, taking her skills to the front lines in the middle east.
“We had long, busy days. I was deployed to Iraq from 2008 to 2009. I worked in the Shock Trauma Platoon. We moved about every three years,” she explained.
Although she said it was a stressful time when deployed in Iraq, she was also able to utilize a number of skills in her division to help those that needed it.
When asked what was the hardest part of her job when working in the Shock Trauma Platoon, she simply said, “knowing you could only do so much for someone and not knowing if they were going to live or not.”
For women serving in the U.S. Navy, their history is steeped with inspiring tails as they began recognition of enlisting in the early 1900’s.
The first women to serve in the U.S. Navy were nurses, beginning with the “Sacred Twenty” appointed after Congress established the Navy Nurse Corps on May 13, 1908. The first large-scale enlistment of women into the Navy met clerical shortages during World War I, and the second came months before the United States entered World War II.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Public Law 689, creating the Navy’s women reserve program on Jul. 30, 1942, which paved the way for officers and enlisted women to enter the Navy.
On Feb. 22, 1974, the Navy designated the first woman as an aviator. On Mar. 7, 1994, the Navy issued the first orders for women to be assigned aboard a combatant ship, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69).
Today, women serve in every rank from seaman to admiral and in every job from naval aviator to a deep-sea diver.
Inspiration for female officers is not short in the U.S. Navy, and Horsey having served a long and lustrous career, says that during her time serving, there was plenty of inspiration to draw from.
“I was inspired every day to be able to serve my military. I had a lot of people inspire me daily and I wanted to be more like them daily,” she said.
Adding her most significant accomplishment was the ability to serve in the military for 20-years; with her greatest memories have been giving birth to her children, and making lifelong friendships on the many travels she went on.
“While in Iraq my kids had to live with their grandfather because I and their dad were both deployed. Most of the time they got to stay with us and travel,” she said.
When it comes to opportunities that can flourish from enlisting, Horsey said, “You can go as far as you want to and stay as long as you want to. You learn responsibility, manners, and you can travel. You can get an education and learn a trade for your future.”
In 1954 Armistice Day officially became known as Veterans Day and from then on, became a holiday honoring American veterans of all wars.
In 1968 the Uniforms Holiday Bill attempted to move Veterans Day to the fourth Monday of October. The bill took effect in 1971.
However, this caused a lot of confusion as many states disagreed with this decision and continued to commemorate Veterans Day on Nov. 11. In 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law, which stated that Veterans Day would, again, be observed on Nov. 11 from 1978 onwards.
Veterans Day 2019 is still celebrated on Nov. 11.
Now retired, Horsey works at the Veterans Office in Paris and says she finds it more rewarding serving her fellow veterans, then when she was enlisted.
“I love to help veterans and their families,” she added, of what inspired her to continue her work as a retired U.S. Navy servicewoman.