I’ll be sharing the history and importance of remembering and honoring our Veterans with my kids. My dad was a Veteran serving two tours in Vietnam and receiving the Bronze Star.
My hope is that by sharing the history of Veterans Day with you, you’ll feel compelled to share the story with your family, friends and colleagues so that we may remember and keep close in our hearts the sacrifice of the many who have served and are actively serving today.
If you or a family member is a veteran, thank you for service.
Veterans Day History
It was “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.”
World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” – officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”
Some 20 million people had died in the fighting that raged for more than four years since August 1914. The date of Nov. 11 became a national holiday of remembrance in many of the victorious allied nations — a day to commemorate the loss of so many lives in the war.
In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words:
“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”
The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m.
An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.”
Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day–a common misunderstanding, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Memorial Day (the fourth Monday in May) honors American service members who died in service to their country or as a result of injuries incurred during battle, while Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans–living or dead–but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.
The brave men and women who serve and protect the U.S. come from all walks of life; they are parents, children and grandparents. They are friends, neighbors and coworkers, and an important part of their communities. Here are some facts about the current veteran population of the United States.
Did You Know?
There are approximately 23.2 million military veterans in the United States.
- 2 million veterans are over the age of 65.
- 9 million veterans are under the age of 35.
- 8 million veterans are women.
- 8 million veterans served during the Vietnam War era (1964-1975), which represents 33% of all living veterans.
- 2 million veterans served during the Gulf War (representing service from Aug. 2, 1990, to present).
- 6 million veterans served during World War II (1941-1945).
- 8 million veterans served during the Korean War (1950-1953).
- 6 million veterans served in peacetime.
Veteran’s Day is a day to remember, honor, and thank those who have and continue to serve this nation.
Veterans include those who served honorably for 2 years, and those have served 40+ years. We celebrate Veterans Day, like we do other holidays again and again – because it is important to remember, to never forget.
Remember to thank a Veteran today.