Veterans Day, observed annually on November 11, is a federal holiday in the United States that honors all military veterans who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. It is a day of remembrance, a time to honor the men and women who have dedicated their lives to safeguarding the nation’s freedom and democracy.
The Origins of Veterans Day
Veterans Day, celebrated annually on November 11, traces its roots back to the end of World War I. The Armistice, signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, marked the cessation of hostilities. Originally known as Armistice Day, the United States officially recognized it as a national holiday in 1938.
The Evolution of Veterans Day
In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day. The shift broadened the scope, honoring all U.S. military veterans, not just those who served in World War I.
A Brief Period of Change
The Uniform Holiday Bill, signed into law in 1968, moved Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. This change aimed to provide three-day weekends for the nation’s workers. However, the original date held significant historical resonance. In 1975, President Gerald Ford returned the observance to November 11, where it remains today.
Celebrating Our Heroes
This day is dedicated to expressing gratitude to those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces. It’s distinct from Memorial Day, which honors those who died while in military service, and Armed Forces Day, which celebrates those currently serving.
Traditions and Observances
Nationwide, parades and ceremonies are common. The most notable is the national ceremony held at Arlington National Cemetery. The President or a high-ranking official lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Veterans Day Around the World
While Veterans Day is uniquely American, many other countries observe similar holidays. Canada, Australia, and Great Britain observe “Remembrance Day” on November 11 to honor those who died in service, particularly in World War I and II. France and Belgium also commemorate the end of World War I on November 11.
Veterans Day serves as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by the brave men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. It is a day to express our gratitude for their service and to acknowledge the freedoms and liberties that their sacrifices have secured for us.