Celebrating Veterans Day

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Veterans Day is celebrated annually on November 11 (Credit: Army.mil)

November 11, 2022, is Veterans Day. The federal holiday honors the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces. This includes everyone who has served in the US Army, Navy, Marine Corps, National Guard, Air Force, and Coast Guard.

Veterans Day often gets confused with Memorial Day. Both honor the American military. But they serve different purposes. Memorial Day commemorates US soldiers who have died in a war. Veterans Day celebrates all US military veterans.

US President Woodrow Wilson established Armistice Day — as it was then called — on November 11, 1919. It was a day to honor World War I soldiers. The date marked the first anniversary of the November 11, 1918, ceasefire agreement, or armistice, between the Allied Nations and Germany. It led to the Treaty of Versailles, which ended the war on June 28, 1919. Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day in 1954 to include the soldiers that fought in World War II (1939 -1945) and the Korean War (1950 - 1953).

Veterans Day honors all US military personnel (Credit: MTA of State of New York/ CC BY 2.0 Wikimedia Commons)

Veterans Day continued to be celebrated on November 11 until the 1968 Uniform Holiday Bill. The law was passed to enable Americans to enjoy three-day weekends. It changed the dates of four federal holidays to a predetermined Monday. They include Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Columbus Day, and Veterans Day. This bill moved Veterans Day to the fourth Monday of October. But due to the date's historical significance, many states continued to observe Veterans Day on November 11.

On September 20, 1975, President Gerald Ford ended the confusion by changing Veterans Day to its original date. The law went into effect in 1978. Since then, the holiday has always been celebrated on November 11. Many other countries also honor their soldiers on November 11. France and New Zealand still refer to the holiday as Armistice Day. The UK, Australia, and Canada call it Remembrance Day. Malta and South Africa celebrate it as Poppy Day.

There are many ways to appreciate the brave US servicemen and women on this special day. Participate in your city or town's Veterans Day parade. Invite the veterans in your family or neighborhood for a meal and learn about their experiences. You can also deliver some food and supplies to a nearby veteran center. Better still, spend time reading or talking to soldiers who are too old or injured to leave their homes.

Happy Veterans Day!

Resources: History.com, VA.gov

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