Veterans Day Holiday
Veterans Day Holiday– The History
Veterans Day is an official federal holiday of the United States of America. It falls annually on November 11, which marks the anniversary of the signing of Armistice that ended World War 1. That war formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.
President Woodrow Wilson started Armistice Day in 1918 with the following proclamation:
"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."1
In 1945 the idea was expanded to celebrate all veterans, instead of just those who died in World War 1 and Congress changed the name to Veterans Day. From then on, November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars. This change was championed by World War 2 veteran Raymond Weeks. He later won the Presidential Citizenship Medal in 1982 for his part in establishing Veterans Day.
Why Do We Celebrate Veterans Day – The Purpose
The Veterans Day holiday is designed to honor and thank all military personnel who have served in any branch of the United States military. It is often marked with parades and services of honor.
A common misunderstanding is that Veterans Day has the same purpose as Memorial Day. Instead, they have distinct purposes. Memorial Day (fourth Monday in May) honors Americans who have died in service. Veterans Day honors all American veterans—whether living or dead.
Veterans Day Holiday – Observances
An official wreath-laying ceremony is held each year at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery. At exactly 11 am, a color guard made up of members of all military branches, renders honor to Veterans. The President or his representative lays a wreath at the tomb and taps are played.
Other states, cities, towns, and rural communities gather to honor their veterans. Activities vary, but often include parades, speeches, music, and a time of honoring local military.
In many places, the US flag is flown at half-staff and federal offices are closed. Veterans Day is always celebrated on November 11, but if the holiday falls on a Saturday, federal offices are closed on Friday. If it falls on a Sunday, federal offices are closed on Monday.
Other countries also honor their veterans on or around November 11. The name of the holidays vary and activities are different than in the USA. “Remembrance Day” is celebrated in Canada, Australia, and Great Britain. In many countries, poppies are used to honor Veterans. In the USA, poppies are more traditional on Memorial Day.
This Veterans Day, say thank you to veterans you encounter. Send a card of thanks to a friend or relative. If you see a veteran at a restaurant or gas station, pick up their bill. Let veterans know you’re thankful for their service.
1 "The History of Veterans Day". United States Army Center of Military History. 3 August 2009.
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