Veterans Day History and Its Significance
Veterans Day is an opportunity to celebrate the U.S veterans who fought hard in the world wars, or any other wars, with sacrifice and bravery. It was originally called “Armistice Day,” and it was first celebrated on November 11, 1919.1 Congress passed a resolution to have Veterans Day as a holiday in 1926, and it became a national holiday in 1938.2
Currently, it is celebrated annually on November 11 to honor the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918 when the World War I ended.3 It is crucial that all Americans understand the Veterans Day history and know why it is important to celebrate it every year in honor of former service members.
Veterans Day History
Veterans Day was formerly known as Armistice Day. It was a U.S holiday that was set aside to commemorate the end of World War 1. 1 Although World War 1 officially ended on June 28, 1919, with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, the actual cease fire between the Allies and Germany was on November 11, 1918.4
It became a holiday in the United States in 1926. It was commemorated as Armistice Day in honor of World War I veterans. The date was dedicated to the cause of world peace. On 1st June 1954, the name was changed from Armistice Day to Veterans Day by the 83rd U.S Congress strike out the word “Armistice” and inserted “Veterans” by amending the Act of 1938.2 The move was because the country had been through both World War II and the Korean War after the veterans' service organizations pushed for the change.
After the approval of the legislation on June 1, 1954, on November 11, it became a holiday to honor American veterans who had fought in all wars. However, in 1968, in a bid to have three day weekends for federal employees, who saw that all four national holidays (Washington’s Birthday, Columbus Day, Memorial Day, and Veterans Day) were celebrated on Mondays, the Veterans Day commemoration was moved to the fourth Monday of October via the Uniforms Holiday Bill by the Congress.1
The first Veterans Day under the new law was celebrated on October 25th, 1971. Many states of America did not approve of this move, and they continued to observe the holiday on the original date. On September 20, 1975, the Veterans Day commemoration was returned to its original date when President Gerald Ford signed a law a bill that reverted the holiday to November 11. 1 In 1978, Congress approved the change to the original date in 1978. The change was because November 11 had historical significance to most Americans. From then forward, Veterans Day is observed on November 11.3
The difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day
Most Americans confuse Veterans Day with Memorial Day. Veterans Day commemorates all veterans, living or dead, who served in the military with special gratitude to living veterans who have served the country during war or peacetime, while Memorial Day celebrates military service members who died while in service to their country or due to the injuries sustained during battle
Celebrating the Veterans Day in America
Currently Veterans Day is commemorated every November 11th. If the holiday falls on Saturday, the federal government observes the holiday on Friday, while if it falls on Sunday, the government celebrates it on Monday. State governments decide when to close for the holiday. However, for non-governmental institutions and businesses, they can close or remain open at their discretion without the influence of the federal, state, or local government operation.
The Senate passed Resolution 143 on August 4, 2001, and established the week of November 11 until November 17, 2001, as the National Veterans Awareness Week. The resolutions seek to increased awareness at elementary and secondary school students about the sacrifice and effort of the veterans to the United States.2
Celebrating Veterans Day in other countries
November 11th is a national holiday in France and most allied nation’s countries. Countries that celebrate veterans include Britain, France, and Australia. These countries celebrate the veterans who fought during World War I and World War II on November 11th or any close date to it.2
In France and Belgium, it is celebrated as Armistice Day. In Britain and most commonwealth nations, it is celebrated as Remembrance Sunday on the second Sunday of November, while in Canada, they celebrate Remembrance Day.3 In Europe, including Britain as well as commonwealth counties, people observe two minutes of silence at 11.am every November 11. However, it is not a public holiday.4
Interesting Veterans Facts
Veterans include men and women who have served in the US military to protect the country and its people. They are from all economic classes and are an important parts of their communities. Currently, there are 18.2 million veterans who are alive and served in at least one war as of 2018; nine percent of them are women. Seven percent of them served during the Vietnam War, seven million of them served during the Persian Gulf War, and two million of them served during the Korean War. Most veterans are from Connecticut as of 2018, and they make up the highest percentage of World War II veterans.3
It is important to note that 496,777 out of the 16 million veterans who fought during World War II were still alive as of 2018. The top three states with the highest percentage of veterans as of 2017 include Alaska, Maine, and Montana.3
Veterans Day celebrations are an important holiday in the U.S. to celebrate all veterans who serve or have served in the military. It includes ceremonies, parades and speeches, and community events. Most restaurants, food stores, and companies, including Mother Earth Products, also honor the veterans and the families with special offers and discounts and at times, free meals.