Veterans Day in the United States

On November 11 citizens across the United States take a moment to respect those who have fought for the country. Learn more about this holiday and how it’s celebrated.

As international students, we’re probably excited for Veterans Day because it means an extra day off that we can use to travel the U.S. or catch up on studying. But we wanted to take the time to share why so many people recognize this day.

The Basics

Definition of veterans: Those who served in the armed forces, such as the army, navy, and air force.

Veterans Day is sometimes confused with another U.S. holiday, Memorial Day. Here are the differences:

Veterans Day: celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans. This holiday is on November 11.

Memorial Day: remembering those who died while serving the country. This holiday is always on the last Monday in May.

Veterans Day is a federal holiday, meaning it’s a holiday recognized in all 50 U.S. states and territories.

When Did Veterans Day Start

President Eisenhower changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day. Photo courtesy www.va.gov
President Eisenhower changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day. Photo courtesy www.va.gov

U.S. President Woodrow Wilson requested November 11, 1919 be Armistice Day as a way of recognizing those who fought and died during WWI.

Armistice means an agreement made by opposing sides in a war to stop fighting for  a certain time.

Then in 1945 WWII veteran Raymond Weeks from Alabama stated the holiday should recognize all veterans, not just those who fought and died during WWI. Finally in 1954 Congress amended to change the name of the holiday to “Veterans Day”.

There is still a holiday called Armistice Day, it’s also on November 11. This holiday helps those remember the armistice signed by the Allies of WWI and Germany.

Also on November 11 is Remembrance Day, (also known as Poppy Day) which is recognized in commonwealth countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom in honor of those who died in WWI.

Veterans Day Traditions

President Barack Obama delivering Veterans Day remarks at the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Nov. 11, 2012. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.
President Barack Obama delivering Veterans Day remarks at the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Nov. 11, 2012. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.

A Veterans Day ceremony is held each year at exactly 11 a.m. at the Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. That is when the President of the United States places a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Then the service is moved inside the Memorial Amphitheater where remarks continue to honor and thank those who served the United States in the armed forces.

Some parades may take place, along with other services at churches and cemeteries across the U.S. Because it’s a federal holiday many public schools, universities, and colleges close for the holiday. Federal government offices close as well.

 

Other Veterans Day Facts

  • California has the most veterans, almost two million. Next is Texas and Florida, with 1.6 million veterans each.
  • As of 2011, there are 1.6 million female veterans.
  • There are 21.8 million veterans living the United States.
  • More than 1.3 million living U.S. veterans served in more than just one conflict/war. About 54,000 served in WWI, Korea, and Vietnam.
Information provided by www.chicagonow.com
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