This year, many people will observe Veteran’s Day without thinking much about what they are celebrating. Many people will simply put on a war movie, or make an extra phone call to a relative who retired from the armed services. Veteran’s Day has a meaningful history that is important to the recognition of veterans who have served honorably in the armed forces. Obviously, as a legal federal holiday, Veteran’s Day helps honor veterans who have shown incredible dedication to our nation. As I earned an undergraduate degree in history, with several classes on WWI and WWII, I have a special interest in the history and meaning of the holiday. Even more significant to me, my aunt is a veteran, who has recently retired from the armed forces. Examining the meaning of the holiday shows how and why people commemorate the veterans on November 11th. The following are five facts about Veteran’s Day.
- On Saturday, March 4, 1865, Abraham Lincoln examined the need, “to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan” in his Second Inaugural Address. America has a long history of honoring those who go to battle for our country.
- According to International Business Times article Veterans Day 2011: Holiday’s History Deepens its Meaning, the holiday was founded on the day that WWI ended on Armistice Day, which was on the eleventh hour of November 11th in 1918 under President Woodrow Wilson. Later in 1938, Congress sanctified November 11th as a special day of remembrance for veterans of WWI, making the date a legal federal holiday. Veteran’s Day began as a way to commemorate only the veterans of WWI.
- National Geographic article Veterans Day 2012: Why It’s Technically Not on Monday and How It’s Changed shows that the date, November 11th, became a holiday to honor veterans who served in all wars, not only those who fought in WWI in 1954. WWII had ended almost 10 years earlier is 1945, so expanding Veteran’s Day to include all veterans was more meaningful to people at that time who wanted to commemorate fathers, brothers, husbands, and friends who had been so lucky to return from fighting in WWII.
- Today, many people celebrate the holiday with ceremonies and parades across the nation. In Washington DC, the annual Veterans Day Ceremony is held at Arlington National Cemetery.
- Some people confuse Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. Both holidays commemorate those who have served in the armed forces. Memorial Day, which happens on the last Monday of May, commemorates those who have died in the armed forces. Veteran’s Day honors people who have served in the armed forces and who are still living.