Veterans Day

On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, the Great War came to an end. The historical roots of what we now know as Veterans Day began over 100 years ago in France, when Germany signed an armistice agreement that brought about the end of World War I. Today in the United States, Veterans Day is a national holiday during which we pay tribute to those who have served honorably in all six branches of the United States Armed Forces. This includes members of the Air Force, Coast Guard, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Space Force, along with their respective National Guard and Reserve components.

A history of Veterans Day

On the first anniversary of the end of World War I, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation marking the first Armistice Day and what he felt it stood for. At the same time, the first convention of the American Legion, one of the earliest veteran service organizations, was held to commemorate the veterans of WWI. During the period between World War I and World War II, Armistice Day was solely a celebration for deceased WWI veterans, even after it became a legal holiday in 1938.

In 1945, a WWII veteran named Raymond Weeks began to campaign for a national day of celebration for veterans of all wars, not just those who had died in WWI. In 1947, Weeks began to lead national celebrations of all veterans on Nov. 11, which he continued to do until his death in 1985. Six years after Weeks’s first national celebration of veterans, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill making Armistice Day a federal holiday for all veterans. Within a month, the bill was amended to change the name of the holiday to Veterans Day. President Ronald Reagan honored Raymond Weeks as “The Father of Veterans Day” in 1982 by awarding him the Presidential Citizens Medal.

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Why do we celebrate Veterans Day?

Veterans Day is set aside as a day to honor the service of all living veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. In the United States, there are living veterans of every war from WWII through the ongoing Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). In the GWOT era, it’s commonplace to tell a veteran, “Thank you for your service.” That token of gratitude is usually appreciated by all who have served. If you want to take it to the next level, here are some other ideas on how to celebrate the veterans in your life.

Buy them a meal: Who doesn’t love free food? Get in touch with friends who served and ask them to lunch or dinner.

Go to a parade: Western film star Roy Rogers said, “We can’t all be heroes, because somebody has to sit on the curb and applaud when they go by.” Going to a local city, town or county event dedicated to veterans is a terrific way to show your appreciation.

Call or text: This may seem trite, but something as simple as a text from a friend is huge. If you have a friend who served but lives far away, a text letting them know that you’re thinking of them can mean more than you might believe.

Fly the flag: Veterans Day is a wonderful day to hang the Stars and Stripes from your porch to show your appreciation. If you know veterans that served in a specific branch, you could fly the flag of their branch of service instead of or in addition to the American flag. Make sure to follow the Flag Code when you display the American flag.

Don’t personally know any veterans?

Donate: There are many veterans service organizations that do great work for the community, and a donation or volunteering your time is a wonderful thing to do.

Visit veterans at the hospital: Another excellent choice is to visit a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital. Veterans of WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War are especially likely to enjoy a visit from a grateful American on Nov. 11.

Most importantly, use Nov. 11 to commemorate the national holiday. Many veterans out there would want you and yours to have an enjoyable time, so celebrate the day!


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