Veterans Day History: Facts Every American Should Know
Veterans Day takes place on November 11th. It is a day where we honor those who have served in the armed forces, American veterans who have fought for our freedom and sacrificed for the common good. Veterans Day has been celebrated as a national holiday for nearly a full century, and has gone through a few notable changes during that time. Even if you aren't on the lookout for Veterans Day gift ideas for a veteran in your life, there are always several ways to show your appreciation for the men and women who've served. The easiest ways to start is by brushing up on your American history. Read on to learn some important facts about Veterans Day.
Veterans Day was first celebrated in 1919, one year after World War I ended. The war officially ended with the Treaty of Versailles, which was signed on June 28, 1919. However, fighting had ceased several months earlier on November 11, 1918, the eleventh day of the eleventh month (and at the eleventh hour of the day). This armistice, an agreement between the Allies and the German forces to stop fighting and recognize an indefinite truce, was known as Armistice Day. Armistice Day was celebrated unofficially until 1938, when it was made a legal national holiday.
World War II was the primary reason for Armistice Day changing to Veterans Day. Before World War II, Armistice Day was essentially a day for honoring veterans who served in World War I. At the end of World War II, Americans realized that while Armistice Day was set aside to honor the veterans of the First World War, it excluded the generation of veterans who fought in WWII. So in 1954, Armistice was substituted for Veterans, and the meaning of the holiday was expanded to properly honor all American war veterans regardless of the specific war in which they fought.
Many people aren't aware that a bill was passed into law in 1968 that rescheduled some major holidays to fall on Mondays to provide a three-day weekend. The Uniform Holiday Bill included George Washington's birthday, Columbus Day, as well as Memorial Day and Veterans Day. The first three holidays continue to stick to this format. However, most Americans didn't appreciate Veterans Day being moved around, and many states continued to officially celebrate Veterans Day on its original date. Confusion, as well as a desire to recognize the historical significance of November 11th, inspired a new law to be passed returning Veterans Day to its original date.
Many citizens tend to confuse Veterans Day with Memorial Day in America. While both holidays are celebrated as a way to honor those who've served in the military, Memorial Day is set aside to remember American military personnel who died while serving their country. Veterans Day, on the other hand, expands Memorial Day to honor everyone who has served. In particular, it's a day to thank living service members, any and all veterans who have served and sacrificed. The history of Memorial Day dates back to the Civil War, and like Veterans Day, was celebrated with a different name for many years, known as Decoration Day until 1971.
How To Celebrate
Parades and public displays of gratitude highlight Veterans Day celebrations in most cities, but a number of opportunities exist to honor American veterans locally and nation-wide. From taking a moment to honor those we've lost, going out of our way to thank those who have served in a personal way or making donations, to connecting with local veteran's organizations to learn how to help improve the lives of living American veterans, there are simple ways to say "Thank You" and solutions to get involved year round. Learn more by visiting the Veteran's Affairs website.