“We don’t know them all, but we owe them all.” -- Unknown
Beyond Parades and Ceremonies: Remembering Veterans’ Sacrifices
Veterans Day isn't just another holiday on the calendar; it serves as a powerful reminder of the sacrifices, courage, and commitment of veterans throughout history. This annual commemoration, observed every November 11, holds deep significance that extends
beyond parades and ceremonies. It's a day to honor veterans' contributions, raise awareness about their challenges, and unite as a nation to support those who have selflessly defended our freedoms and safeguarded our way of life. As we celebrate Veterans Day, let us remember the facts that underscore its significance and continue to advocate for the well-being of those who have served.
Historical Roots: From Armistice Day to Veterans Day
Originally called Armistice Day, this holiday commemorated the end of World War I, marked by the armistice agreement signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, symbolizing a new era of peace. In 1954, after WWII and the Korean War,
Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day to honor American veterans of all wars and to recognize their sacrifices and contributions to our nation's security and liberty.
Shifting Celebrations: The Battle Over Veterans Day Date
In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, moving Veterans Day to the fourth Monday of October. However, due to its historical significance, many states resisted this change. In 1975, President Gerald Ford signed a law that reinstated the observance of Veterans Day to November 11, where it has remained since 1978.
A Day of National Unity: Uniting in Gratitude
Veterans Day transcends political boundaries and ideologies and unites us in honoring those who have risked their lives to protect our way of life. Veterans Day is a federal holiday in the United States with many employers providing a paid day off.
Understanding the Name: The Apostrophe Dilemma
It's Veterans Day, not Veteran's Day for a good reason. The lack of the apostrophe has a definite and deliberate meaning. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, “Veterans Day is not a day that belongs to veterans, it is a day for honoring veterans.”
Distinguishing Veterans Day: Honoring Veterans, the Fallen, and Active-Duty Military Service Members
While both Veterans Day and Memorial Day are dedicated to honoring military personnel, they differ in purpose. Memorial Day pays tribute to those who died in service, while Veterans Day acknowledges all veterans—living or deceased—who have served honorably. Additionally, Armed Forces Day, celebrated in May, honors those currently serving in the U.S. military.
Symbolism and Tradition: Arlington’s Solemn Tribute
Arlington National Cemetery hosts the annual Veterans Day National Ceremony, a solemn event where the President lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This iconic ceremony pays homage to the fallen soldiers and reminds us of the sacrifices made to preserve our freedom.
A Global Remembrance: Honoring Veterans Worldwide
While Veterans Day is unique to the United States, other countries also pay tribute to their military personnel. Canada and Australia observe Remembrance Day, while Britain celebrates Remembrance Sunday on the second Sunday of November. Throughout Europe, a two-minute silence is observed at 11 a.m. on November 11. This international acknowledgment highlights the global significance of honoring those who have served.
Veterans in the U.S.: A Vast Community
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there are more than 21 million U.S. veterans. Approximately 10 percent of the overall adult population is made up of veterans with women making up a record-high 13 percent of all veterans in the United States.
A National Responsibility: Supporting Our Heroes
The strength of a nation rests not only in its military might but in the empathy and support extended to those who have served. Veterans Day reminds us of the ongoing challenges faced by veterans. Many return home with physical and emotional scars, struggling to reintegrate into civilian life. Veterans Day is an opportunity to advocate for improved mental health services for
veterans and to raise awareness about their struggles. An estimated 20 veterans die by suicide every day, emphasizing the need for increased support and awareness. By acknowledging their contributions through Veterans Day, we acknowledge our responsibility to provide them with the resources and support they need as they transition back into civilian life.
Veterans and Leadership: Military Service and Presidential Leadership
Of the 45 men elected president of the United States, 31 had prior military service. This fact underscores the connection between leadership and military experience. The president of the United States is commander-in-chief of the United States armed forces but prior military service is not a prerequisite for holding the office.
A Heartfelt ‘Thank You’ to Our Veterans and Their Families
Let’s ensure our military heroes’ contributions to our freedom are never forgotten and support for their well-being remains a top priority. To all veterans, we extend our heartfelt gratitude for your service and sacrifices. We also thank the unsung heroes—the families of our veterans—who have steadfastly stood by their side through long separations and uncertain outcomes. Your unwavering support has played an indispensable role in enabling our veterans to fulfill their duties. In their dedication and sacrifice, veterans and their families embody the true spirit of patriotism, and it is our shared duty to ensure their sacrifices are always remembered.