This has been a difficult year and week to be certain. Many Americans are decrying the result of the presidential election, which is understandable. But I wanted to take the time to observe Veteran’s Day and learn more about it.
Why Do We Observe Veterans Day?
Veterans Day is observed in order to recognize the service of all military veterans, living and diseased. We honor those who fought in wars and those who served in any capacity, including during peace times.
Now, Memorial Day and Veterans Day have key differences. The former is observed in order to honor members of the military who died in service of their country or from wounds suffered in battle. Also, Memorial Day is observed on the fourth Monday in May. Veterans Day is always on November 11, mainly due to how it originated (“Veterans”).
How Did Veterans Day Become a National Holiday?
In late 1918, Germany agreed to an armistice with the Allies. On October 4, 1918, the Germans reached out to United States president Woodrow Wilson and expressed that they would like to work out a peace agreement based on Wilson’s Fourteen Points. The agreement would formally be signed on November 11, 1918 at Allied Supreme Commander Ferdinand Foch’s railway carriage (“Armistice”).
On November 11, 1919, Armistice Day commemorated the one-year anniversary of the end of World War I hostilities. Armistice Day would not become a national observance until 1938 (which was 12 years after a Congressional resolution).
Between 1954, and 1975, the observance of the national holiday underwent some changes. In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower changed the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day in order to honor more veterans. In 1971, Veterans Day was moved from November 11 to the fourth Monday in October (per the 1968 Uniform Holidays Bill). President Gerald Ford moved the holiday back to its original day in 1975.
Do Other Countries Observe Veterans Day?
Yes. Most observances occur in Europe.
There are similar observances to honor the veterans of both World Wars in Great Britain, France, Australia, and Canada. Great Britain observes Remembrance Sunday on the second Sunday in November. Canada observes Remembrance Day on November 11. Additionally, 2 minutes of silence are taken at 11 am on November 11 in Europe and in (British) commonwealth countries (“Veterans”).
Poland has a special observance on November 11. It’s the nation’s Independence Day, since its sovereignty was restored.
Germany honors its fallen soldiers and civilians during “Volkstrauertag,” which occurs somewhere between November 13-19 (Roberts).
Wishing the Best …
Whether you are part of the armed forces, know someone who is serving overseas, or know someone who is serving in the military in any capacity, I wish a great day to you and yours.
“Feature Articles – The Armistice.” First World War.com. 22 Aug 2009. Web. Retrieved 11 Nov 2016. <http://www.firstworldwar.com/features/armistice.htm>.
History.com Staff. “Veterans Day Facts.” History.com. A+E Networks. 2009 Web. Retrieved 11 Nov 2016. <https://www.facebook.com/ShmaltzandMenudo/>.
Roberts, Tim. “How Veterans Day Is Honored Around the World.” The CW33. 11 Nov 2016. Web. <http://cw33.com/2016/11/11/how-veterans-day-is-honored-around-the-world/>