Veterans Day


Next Saturday, 11 November 2023

Veterans Day is observed annually on November 11. If it falls on Saturday, the Friday before may be used for the holiday instead. If it occurs on a Sunday, then Monday may be used. It is a federal holiday, so most schools and businesses are closed. However, state and local governments, schools, and businesses are not required to close. Check locally.

What Is Veterans Day?

Veterans Day is held in honor of all military veterans, including both the fallen and the living, who have served in the United States Armed Forces, during wartime or peacetime. While Veterans Day celebrates retired soldiers and victims inclusive of all wars on the same day annually, the date of November 11 was originally designated in 1919 as it coincided with commemorating the end of World War I. Until 1954 when it was replaced, Veterans Day was known as Armistice Day.

The observance should not be confused with Memorial Day, the holiday in May, which is held in remembrance of all those who have died in military service. 

Veterans Day is known as Remembrance Day or Armistice Day in the UK and Commonwealth nations. While commemorations and ceremonies vary, the significance of the date remains the same. For example, in the UK poppy wreaths are laid at commemorative sites in remembrance and people often choose to wear a poppy pinned to their clothes. In most countries, there is a moment of silence at 11 am as a mark of respect.

Flowers laid at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.
Flowers are laid at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.

History of the Day

The origins of Veterans day are in 1918, when an armistice, a suspension of hostilities, between the Allies and Germany took place. The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 was seen by many as the end of The Great War. When the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28 1919 in the Palace of Versailles, Versailles, France, this marked the official end of the First World War. 

In the same year, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson honored the end of World War I by proclaiming November 11  Armistice Day. He issues these words:

"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…” 

Seven years later, in 1926, The United States Congress officially passed a resolution that the “recurring anniversary of [November 11, 1918] should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through goodwill and mutual understanding between nations”.

It wasn't until 1954 that Armistice day was renamed Veterans Day. Millions of Americans had taken part in World War II, and the Korean War, and so veterans service organizations petitioned for the 1938 Act to be changed. President Dwight D. Eisenhower agreed and renamed the day Veterans Day. From that point on November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

Veterans Day timeline

Changes in the day

In 1968 The Uniforms Holiday Bill moves Veterans Day to the fourth Monday of October to ensure that federal employees get a three-day weekend break. Many states did not agree with this decision, but despite this, the change happened and The first Veterans Day took place in October. Many states, however, continued to observe the original date. 

The date was not celebrated for long in October, as in 1975 President Gerald R. Ford signed a law reestablishing November 11 as the annual observance of Veterans Day. From 1978 Veterans Day was once again celebrated in November.

In 2008 rather than just celebrating Veterans Day, A resolution was passed in congress designating the week of November 9 through November 15, 2008, as 'National Veterans Awareness Week'. The time was used with direct educational efforts in elementary and secondary schools to highlight veterans’ contributions and sacrifices. In some parts of America 'National Veterans Awareness Week' has continued to be observed by communities with events, workshops, and ceremonies. 

Armistice Parades 1918
Parade and Crowds in the Streets in New York City After the Armistice of November 11, 1918

How to Celebrate Veterans Day Today

In 2021, there were around 19 million veterans recorded in the United States. Veterans Day is a celebration of all they have done for their country. It also encourages citizens to think about the many challenges that veterans face, including post-traumatic stress disorder, recovery from injuries, settling back into a civilian lifestyle and other problems.

Some Veterans Day schemes encourage companies to think about offering veterans employment, or products and services for free. A great way of giving back is to volunteer at a soup kitchen offering free meals to veterans. Some schools host educational programs for their students and may participate in community programs. 

Official events are held in support of veterans in local communities. For example, parades, Church services, military band concerts, and sponsored runs. The American flag is hung at half-mast. There are also gun salutes. A period of silence is observed at 11 a.m. for 2 minutes. 

At Arlington National Cemetery, the Veterans Day National Ceremony is held. It begins with a wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns, a monument for those whose remains have not been identified. You could travel to a memorial site honoring US veterans to participate, or simply show your gratitude and appreciation from home by flying your own flag. You can celebrate virtually, at home, or at work, by showing your support online via social media.

Whatever way you choose to celebrate Veterans Day, showing your support and appreciation for Veterans for their service to the United States of America will go a long way.

Facts About Veterans Day:

  • Until 1954, Veterans Day was known as Armistice Day. While Armistice Day was principally celebrated to honor the heroes from World War I, the change of name brought about a more inclusive day to celebrate since Veterans Day honors all of those involved and affected by war.
  • It was former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a US Army general, who instigated that Veterans Day replaces Armistice Day.
  • World War II (WWII) saw the highest number of US Military personnel fight for their country with over 16 million deployed. That’s over 3 times the amount of WWI.
  • Veterans Day is often misspelled as Veteran’s Day. Since the holiday doesn’t belong to just one Veteran as it is inclusive and celebrates all Veterans, it’s Veterans Day.
  • Did you know, that Veterans Day is one of the three military holidays, alongside Memorial Day and Independence Day?
  • Memorial Day is not another name for Veterans Day, it’s a different day entirely. Memorial Day honors those specifically who have died in the line of duty. 
  • Veterans Day honors all US Armed Forces departments, including the US Army, US Air Force, US Marine Corps, US Navy, US Coast Guard, and most recently, US Space Force.
Veterans Day
Veterans Day

Veterans Day - Next years

Monday, 11 November 2024

Tuesday, 11 November 2025

Wednesday, 11 November 2026

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