The importance of Veterans Day might vary from person to person, but the underlying sentiment remains constant: to honor and appreciate our veterans. As citizens, we should understand the significance of this day and why we observe it. Indeed, there is great value in learning about the history behind our national holidays. So let’s delve into the origins and customs of Veterans Day, while extending our heartfelt “Thank You” to all our veterans.
Unlike some holidays that shift with the yearly calendar, Veterans Day is always commemorated on November 11th. This day is not to be confused with Memorial Day, which is a time to mourn and remember those who have fallen in service to our country. Veterans Day, on the other hand, is a celebration dedicated to all military veterans, both living and deceased.
These courageous men and women of the U.S. military have played pivotal roles in maintaining peace not only within America, but also globally. As such, expressing gratitude to a veteran—today or any day— is a simple yet powerful way to honor their service.
The historical roots of Veterans Day can be traced back to the aftermath of World War I, a cataclysmic event that reshaped the geopolitical landscape. World War I, also known as “The Great War,” was a global conflict that lasted from 1914 to 1918. The signing of the armistice (a formal agreement to stop fighting) between the Allies and Germany on November 11, 1918, marked the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front. This cessation took effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, a moment now immortalized in history.
The first commemoration of what was then called “Armistice Day” took place on November 11, 1919, on the first anniversary of the end of World War I. President Woodrow Wilson issued a message to the nation, expressing what he felt the day meant to Americans. In 1926, Congress passed a resolution calling for an annual observance, and November 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938.
In the years following World War I, the United States found itself involved in two more major military conflicts: World War II (1939-1945) and the Korean War (1950-1953). As a result, in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation changing the name of the legal holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day. This change recognized veterans of all wars, not just those who had served in World War I.
In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which moved the celebration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. The law went into effect in 1971, but the shift was met with considerable resistance. Many states continued to observe the holiday on its original date. The primary argument against the change was that November 11 was a date of historic significance – it was the actual anniversary of the end of World War I.
In response to the widespread disapproval and the persistence of many states in celebrating Veterans Day on November 11, President Gerald R. Ford signed a new law returning Veterans Day to its original date in 1975. Since then, Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of the day of the week on which it falls.
Over the years, Veterans Day has evolved to become a tribute to all military veterans who have served the United States in war or peace, highlighting the immense sacrifices these individuals have made for their country. Today, the holiday is marked by ceremonies and parades across the country, commemorating the contributions of our nation’s heroes. The holiday serves as a reminder of their courage, dedication, and unwavering commitment to the ideals of freedom and democracy.
It’s worth noting that Veterans Day does not include an apostrophe. This is not an oversight but a grammatical representation of the day’s intent. The day doesn’t belong to veterans in a possessive sense; rather, it is a day set aside to honor all veterans. Therefore, everyone, not just veterans, can celebrate this day.
In keeping with the celebratory nature of Veterans Day, we do not fly our flags at half-mast. Instead, we hoist them high and proud as a salute to the bravery and dedication of our veterans. Let this serve as a reminder of their immense contribution to our nation and the world at large.
Veterans Day represents an opportunity to appreciate the sacrifices and courage of our military veterans, recognizing their crucial roles in preserving peace and freedom. So, on this Veterans Day—and indeed every day—let’s remember to say, “Thank you” to our veterans.
I added this image to our Facebook page; I think it is an awesome memorial. And apparently, you guys do as well; it is getting shared a ton. There are memorials all over the country, but this has got to be the best I’ve seen. There are 2,200 red bricks surrounding the memorial with the names of veterans on them. If you are ever in Anthem, Arizona, you should check it out.