Veterans Day Explained

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Veterans Day is celebrated annually on November 11 (Credit: Satheesh Sankaran/CC0/Pixabay)

Every November 11, Americans celebrate Veterans Day. The federal holiday honors the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces, who frequently risk their lives to protect others. This includes everyone who has served in the US Army, Navy, Marine Corps, National Guard, Air Force, and the Coast Guard. Veterans Day often gets confused with Memorial Day. The former honors all military veterans, including those still with us, while the latter pays tribute to those who died while in service.

US President Woodrow Wilson established Armistice Day — as it was then called — on November 11, 1919, to honor the courageous World War I soldiers. The date marked the first anniversary of the November 11, 1918, armistice, or ceasefire agreement, between the Allied Nations and Germany. The accord eventually led to the Treaty of Versailles, which ended the "Great War" on June 28, 1919. Armistice Day was declared a federal holiday in 1938 and renamed Veterans Day in 1954 to include the soldiers that fought in World War II (1939 -1945) and the Korean War (1950 -1953).

Veterans Day continued to be celebrated annually on November 11 until the enactment of the 1968 Uniform Holiday Bill. Designed to allow Americans to enjoy three-day weekends, it changed the dates of four federal holidays — Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Columbus Day, and Veterans Day — to a predetermined Monday. Under this bill, Veterans Day was moved to the fourth Monday of October.

But due to the date's significance, many states continued commemorating Veterans Day on November 11. On September 20, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford ended the confusion by reverting the celebration to its original date. The law went into effect in 1978, and since then, Veterans Day has always been observed on November 11. Many other countries also honor their soldiers on November 11. France and New Zealand still refer to the holiday as Armistice Day, while the UK, Australia, and Canada call it Remembrance Day. Malta and South Africa celebrate it as Poppy Day.

The first Armistice Day celebrations in Philadelphia (Credit: Military.com)

Many Americans mark Veterans Day by participating in their city or town parades. There are many other ways to appreciate the brave servicemen and women. Invite the veterans in your family or neighborhood for a meal and learn about their experiences. You can also deliver some food and supplies to a nearby veteran center or, better still, spend time with soldiers who are too old or injured to leave their homes.

Happy Veterans Day!

Resources: History.com, VA.gov

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125 Comments
  • deafgirlhistory
    Oh, wow! Military is in my blood, because nearly all of my ancestors and my both parents was all soldiers, I want to become soldier but I can`t because of hearing medical policy, but when I grow up, I will fight for Deaf rights to join the military, reply below, please! I honor all of U.S. soldiers!
    • cabibl132
      cabibl1328 months
      most of the men in my family went to war. I hope to go to help save the united 🌎
      • explorer1221
        explorer12219 months
        Salutes to all veterans, front line workers, and military soldiers.
        • tombo1352723547
          I love Veterans Day and it is so cool to read this information
          • jroey
            jroey10 months
            At my school my grade had the veterans Day program and I had to say Monday and I screeched it in front of like 200 people the whole gym was laughing
            • pookpine
              pookpine10 months
              My Papaw's dad was a soldier in world war 2 and one of my uncles was a soldier in the war in Afghanistan.
              • griff1boy
                griff1boy11 months
                Find it cool and sad for them
              • chimpansefn
                chimpansefn11 months
                2 days I know right sunfun my daddy to fought in Iraq and saved a man’s life and he survived thanks to my daddy! It was even in the newspaper thank you daddy and all the other hero’s that risked the lives ❤️
              • minecrafter68
                minecrafter6811 months
                my uncle is in the marine corps and one of my grandpas was i world war 2
                • addison_11
                  addison_1111 months
                  This is a day to remember and I do