Each November 11, the country honors the men and women who have served in the United States military. Here is a little background on the holiday, and why it’s important to remember those who made our country so free and so awesome.

Who is a Veteran?

Veterans are men and women who have served in any branch of the United States military, such as the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy. There are more than 21 million veterans living in the United States, all who served during time of war or peace. United States veterans have served their country through 12 major wars since the Revolutionary War. Of the 45 United States presidents, 26 of them have been veterans.

Why was November 11 chosen for Veterans Day?

November 11 is a United States legal holiday. This means United States federal offices are closed and no mail is delivered. When November 11 falls on a Saturday – like it does this year – the holiday will be observed on November 10.

In 1918, an armistice was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in World War I. An armistice is when world leaders get together and say to each other “let’s stop fighting”. The armistice for World War I was agreed upon at the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month: November 11! Even though the Treaty of Versailles was signed in June five months earlier in 1918, the public treats November 11th as the day marking the end of the war.

One year later, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as Armistice Day and then in 1938, Armistice Day was made an official federal holiday. But in the 1950s, thanks to a big group of veterans from World War II, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation to change the named to “Veterans Day”, to honor all Veterans from all the branches of the military.

What are some symbols of Veterans Day?

Poppies are a symbol of remembrance during Veterans Day. Canadian surgeon and warrior John McCrae wrote a poem entitled “In Flanders Field” which became a poem of war and remembrance. The poppy, a flower that may not grow in fields for years but then will come back and grow in great numbers, inspired McCrae. The American Legion sells small paper replicas of the flowers on the holiday, to raise money for Veteran in need.

Many other military families and supporters wear or hang yellow ribbons. This is a way to keep those in the armed services who are far away or abroad top of mind.

  

What is done to commemorate Veterans Day?

Each year, there is an official wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Many parades across the country are held to commemorate the holiday. Great Britain, France, Australia, and Canada also honor their Veterans in November. In Great Britain they call it Remembrance Sunday, and the entire country observes two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. every November 11.

How is Veterans Day different than Memorial Day?

Memorial Day in May honors American men and women who died in service to their country. Veterans Day pays tribute to all American Veterans, living or deceased. November 11 recognizes each man or woman who served, either in wartime or peacetime.

Take some time during Veterans Day (or any day of the year) to thank a Veteran for their service!

 

 

Sources: history.com, veteranstodayarchives.com