Do You Have To Be Old To Be A Veteran?

On Saturday, the country honored its veterans.  November 11 was originally designated as “Armistice Day” in recognition of the date on which fighting in the First World War ended.  It became a legal holiday in 1938 only a few years before the United States’ entry into the Second World War in 1941.  52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a).  Shortly after the end of the Korean War, President Dwight Eisenhower proclaimed November 11 as “Veterans Day” for the first time:

Now, Therefore, I, Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States of America, do hereby call upon all of our citizens to observe Thursday, November 11, 1954, as Veterans Day. On that day let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain. I also direct the appropriate officials of the Government to arrange for the display of the flag of the United States on all public buildings on Veterans Day.

Who qualifies as a “veteran” in California?  It turns out that California’s Military and Veterans Code has multiple, not entirely consistent definitions of the term (See Sections 890, 920, 940, 980, 987.003, 999, and 1010).

The term itself is derived from the Latin word veteres, meaning old.  The Romans, by and large, revered the customs and examples of their elders, especially those of the distant past.  For example, the great Roman lawyer, Marcus Tullius Cicero wrote “maiores nostri, veteres illi, admodum antiqui, leges annales non habebant (our elders, those ancestors of absolute antiquity, had no laws governing the age [for holding public offices])”.  In M. Antonium Oratio Philippica Quinta [the Fifth Oration Against M. Antonius aka the “Fifth Philipic”] § 47.

This post was written by Keith Paul Bishop of Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis LLP., © 2010-2017
For more legal analysis, go to The National Law Review  

Veteran's Day: In Flanders Field . . .

Allen Matkins Law Firm

Today is Veterans Day.  The date commemorates the ending of the First World War on November 11, 1918 at 11:00 a.m.  The following year, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first “Armistice Day”, as it was then known:

“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.”

A custom arose among allies of wearing poppies in remembrance of the soldiers who were killed in the Great War.  Why poppies? The association was inspired by a very popular poem written by Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. The poem opens with these lines:

In Flanders fields, the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,

John McCrae did not live to see the end of the war. He died of an illness in France in 1918.

It has been 100 years since the start of the First World War in July 1914.  The United States did not declare war until April, 1917.  England is commemorating the centennial by installing 888,246 brilliant red ceramic poppies in the moat of the Tower of London.  The BBC has published these stunning pictures.

More than 4 million American soldiers served in the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I.  The last of these Doughboys, Corporal Frank Buckles, died in 2011 at the age 0f 110.

California is currently home to 1,851,570 veterans, including 1,387,510 who are wartime veterans.

Today is Veterans Day.  Let’s all remember and honor the service of the men and women who have served our country.


Keith Paul Bishop


Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis LLP