What exactly do we celebrate on Veterans Day?
Veterans Day is a perfect time to celebrate and honor the many men and women who have served in the US Armed Forces. But honor them how, and for what? These questions can best be answered by looking at the history and understanding of the holiday.
What’s the Difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day?
It’s easy to confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Both are national holidays set forth to honor our Armed Forces. Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. While those who died are also remembered this day, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor all those who served honorably in the military in both wartime and peacetime. Veterans Day is largely intended to thank all living veterans for their service and sacrifices they gave to defend our great country. According to the United States Census Bureau, there are over 19.6 million military veterans currently living today.
Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919. This became the first anniversary marking the end of World War I. In 1926, Congress resolved to officially call November 11th Armistice Day. Then in 1938, the day was named a national holiday. The first celebration using the term Veterans Day occurred in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1947. Raymond Weeks, a World War II veteran, organized "National Veterans Day," which included a parade and other festivities, to honor all veterans. The event was held on November 11, which was technically still designated Armistice Day. Later, U.S. Representative Edward Rees of Kansas proposed a bill that would change Armistice Day to Veterans Day. This day now honors military veterans with parades and speeches across the nation. A national ceremony takes place at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. every year on the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month.
Who is a Veteran
The origin of the word “veteran” comes from the latin word “vetus” which means “old” and is defined as a person who has had long service or experience in a particular occupation or field. A Veteran is someone who has served in both times of peace and/or war. A common misconception is that only those who have served in combat or those who have retired from active duty can be called military veterans.
Stop and Remember
Each Veterans Day should be a time when Americans stop and remember the history of this day and remember the Soldiers of the U.S. Armed forces that have sacrificed selfless service for the United States of America. As Dwight Eisenhower said after he signed Veterans Day into law,