Service members make numerous sacrifices in defense of their countries. While the debts to service members may never be the kind that can be repaid in full, paying tribute to veterans, on Veterans Day and throughout the year, can be a great way to show them just how much their efforts are appreciated.
Veterans Day begins with Armistice Day
Veterans Day is a byproduct of the end of World War I, when Germany and the Allied Nations signed the Treaty of Versailles, formally ceasing fighting and establishing terms of peace. On Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the signing of the treaty, the first Armistice Day events were held. Armistice Day was initially a legal holiday to honor the end of World War I only, states History.com. The United States Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday starting in 1938. However, in 1954, after the country had been embroiled in both World War II and the Korean War, Congress amended the Act of 1938 by renaming the commemoration “Veterans Day” to honor veterans of all wars.
Veterans Day in October?
According to Military.com, for a short time, thanks to the Uniform Holiday Bill, which in 1968 established three-day weekends for federal employees by celebrating national holidays on Mondays, Veterans Day was moved to the fourth Monday of October — the first being Oct. 25, 1971. However, many people did not agree with this decision, continuing to honor the holiday on the original date. In 1975, President Gerald Ford signed a new law that returned Veterans Day to Nov. 11 beginning in 1978. Since then, parades, memorial events, volunteer efforts, and other celebrations revolving around veterans have been held on Nov. 11.
Veterans around the world
Many countries, including the United States, celebrate veterans on or near Nov. 11. America’s closest neighbor to the north, Canada, commemorates veterans on Remembrance Day (also Nov. 11), as does the United Kingdom. Britain also has Remembrance Sunday, which is the second Sunday of November. Remembrance Day also is called Poppy Day, when people of the Commonwealth member states wear a red poppy flower in honor of military members who have died in the line of duty.
There are various ways to honor veterans on Veterans Day and Remembrance Day. Federal government closings, educational efforts in schools, parades, and visits to military hospitals or cemeteries may take place. In Europe, it is common to observe two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. every Nov. 11.
Veterans Day and its sister holidays mark the honoring of veterans of all wars, with a particular focus on living veterans. It is a day to celebrate the dedication and selflessness of hardworking military men and women.