The History of Veterans Day

While most Americans are well aware that Thanksgiving occurs during November, many are surprised to learn that there’s another officially recognized national holiday in this month: Veterans Day.

Held annually on Nov. 11, Veterans Day is an official holiday in the United States that honors the millions of military veterans who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

It’s important to note that Veterans Day isn’t the same as Memorial Day. Memorial Day, also a nationally recognized holiday, specifically honors military veterans who died while serving. Veterans Day, on the other hand, honors all military veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Aside from this small nuance, though, the two holidays are relatively the same. They both celebrate and honor veterans of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.

The Origins of Veterans Day

Veterans Day has been around for quite some time. Its origins can actually be traced back to 1919, during which U.S. President Woodrow Wilson made a public statement declaring Nov. 11 as Armistice Day.

In his statement, President Woodrow Wilson explained that “a year ago our enemies laid down their arms in accordance with an armistice which rendered them impotent to renew hostilities.” Of course, he was referring to the armistice between the Allied forces and German forces during World War I.

On November 11, 1918, the two sides essentially called a truce, thereby ending World War I. To honor the veterans who gave their life in World War I, President Woodrow Wilson declared November 11 as national Armistice Day.

When President Woodrow Wilson established Armistice Day, however, he specifically said that it should honor World War I veterans who died during service. It wasn’t until several decades later when the meaning of Armistice Day — and the holiday’s name — changed.

In 1945, a World War II veteran petitioned the U.S. government to recognize all veterans on this day, not just the veterans who died. In 1954, the U.S. government officially changed the meaning of Armistice Day so that it celebrated and honored all U.S. military veterans. At the same time, the holiday’s name was changed from “Armistice Day” to “Veterans Day.”

Today, Veterans Day continues to honor and celebrate our nation’s military veterans. It’s a federal holiday, meaning government workers get the day off work. In some states and cities, students are also given a free day. Most importantly, though, Veterans Day offers the perfect opportunity for American citizens to support our nation’s military veterans.

Find one and THANK THEM today.

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