Most Americans know that the eleventh day of the eleventh month is the time when we honor and remember the veterans who fought bravely for our country.
What most people don’t know—even many of us right here at home—is that Veterans Day started in Birmingham.
This year, Big Communications is extremely proud to be working with Alabama Media Group, Lamar Advertising Company, Verizon Wireless, and Birmingham Printing and Publishing to promote National Veterans Day and Birmingham’s annual Veterans Day Parade.
As part of the promotion, we designed a brand new National Veterans Day website that provides a brief history of the holiday and information about the Birmingham parade and other events. Additionally, billboards and posters (designed by our very own Matt Lane Harris) are already spreading throughout the city to encourage local participation.
For Big President John Montgomery, the Veterans Day campaign is a logical extension of some of the local work we’ve been doing lately.
“With all of the national accolades Birmingham has been receiving in 2013, including the 50year commemoration of the Civil Rights Movement, we thought there was one more thing that we needed to remind our neighbors was uniquely ours,” said Montgomery. “We wanted to let everyone know that Birmingham had ownership of Veterans Day. I don’t think a lot of people realize that a local started this, and it’s one more thing that we should be proud of on a national scale.”
Armistice Day began in 1919 as a national commemoration honoring WWI veterans. But in 1945, Raymond Weeks, a Birmingham native and a WWII veteran, decided that this holiday should honor all of the men and women who fought for our country. Weeks began leading a National Veterans Day Parade through Birmingham in 1947.
Then, in 1954, President Eisenhower signed legislation into law to formally establish November 11 as Veterans Day.
Weeks continued to lead the National Veterans Day Parade in Birmingham until his death in 1985, at which point the torch was passed on to Bill Voitt, who retired from his duty in 2011. Mark Ryan, who was profiled recently on AL.com, began organizing the parade in Voitt’s absence and believes that the event has the potential to become must-see television for people across the country.
While this year’s parade is shaping up to be a big success, next year will present an even bigger opportunity for national attention. As Montgomery points out, next year is the 60th anniversary of Congress designating Veterans Day as a national holiday.
“This, if anything, was a building year,” said Montgomery. “Getting a head start for a really big event next year in 2014.”
But don’t wait ‘til next year to get involved. There are lots of events coming up to honor our veterans. And when the National Veterans Day Parade rolls past our office on Monday, November 11, stop by Big Communications on 2nd Avenue and visit our Veterans Day pop-up shop, where you can show your pride with buttons, stickers, discounted t-shirts, and limited edition posters to commemorate the occasion. Or, if you can’t wait ‘til next month, visit our Big City Brand page for Veterans Day gear.
And now through Veterans Day, don’t forget to post photos of you and any veterans in your life with the hashtag #OurVets. Then see all of the photos of Birmingham’s veterans at AL.com.
If you or your business wants to help us promote the National Veterans Day Parade, stop by Big Communications during our office hours and pick up a free poster to display in your window.
See you at the parade, Birmingham.