A look at the history and significance of Veterans Day

Each year, November 11th is set aside to commemorate Veterans Day in honor of individuals who have served in the armed forces of our country, yet some mistakenly think we celebrate war. As an American citizen, it is important that you know the history behind Veterans Day, so that you can honor and respect the bravery and sacrifice of our retired service members.

Initially, Veterans Day was known as Armistice Day, which marked the end of World War I when the United Forces and Germany sign a ceasefire deal. So, the observance of Armistice Day began in 1919.

Afterward, the U.S Congress declared it as an “annual observance” in 1926 and by 1938 it became a national holiday. The holiday was amended in 1954 when U.S Congress resolved to change the word ‘Armistice’ for ‘Veterans,’ and it has remained as such ever since. The holiday was at some point celebrated on October 25th for a time, but after more consideration, it was officially reverted to November 11th by President Gerald R. Ford in 1975 and to take effect in 1978. The number “11” is quite significant in the celebration of our Veterans because it denotes the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 when World War I formally ended.

Veterans Day is sometimes confused with Memorial Day, but, for one, they are celebrated on two different holidays: Memorial Day is held on the last Monday in May, while Veterans Day is on November 11th annually. Aside from the dates, there is also a major distinction between who we celebrate on each, as well: Veterans Day celebrates all ex-servicemen, while Memorial Day pays tributes to soldiers that passed away while on-duty.

Various versions of Veterans Day are celebrated in other countries across the world. For example, Australia and Canada celebrate “Remembrance Day” on November 11th, while the United Kingdom chose the closest Sunday to November 11th to celebrate their version of Remembrance Day.

We have an estimated 20 million American war veterans living among us and so, whenever you meet any one of them, extend a “thank you” or a little act of kindness to show how much you appreciate their service. It is only through these dedicated men and women that we have remained the “land of the free and home of the brave.”

Featured photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels

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