By Kelly Maue
Veterans Day. It’s the day to honor and thank the true patriots – the brave men and women who have served our country. It’s a day to stand united and a day to pay respect.
This federal holiday has roots over a century old. Originally known as Armistice Day, it marked the end of World War I. The war was over after the Armistice with Germany went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. Decades later, Armistice Day became an official holiday in 1938.
To be more inclusive, the holiday was later renamed “Veterans Day.” Raymond Weeks, a WW II veteran, was the first to suggest the idea in 1945. And although it took time – and urging from U.S. veteran organizations – President Dwight D. Eisenhower made it official. Congress changed the name, and Veterans Day became law in 1954.
This annual day of remembrance pays tribute to all who have served in the military. Now, every single man and woman – serving past or present, in wartime or during peace, home or abroad – is duly honored on this day.
Of the many ways we celebrate and observe this federal holiday, the annual Veterans Day National Ceremony at Arlington National Ceremony is perhaps the best known. At precisely 11 a.m., there is a wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns. Following this stoic event, dignitaries make remarks along with a parade of colors inside the Memorial Amphitheater.
Most schools observe the holiday with educational programs, including veteran guests – while additionally taking the holiday off. The US Postal Service, banks, federal courts, and other offices will be closed. Private companies use their discretion about observing the national holiday.
Some towns put on parades, while other groups gather at flag poles or hold other ceremonies. Individuals and places of business fly the American flag. Another thoughtful gesture is to write thank you notes for veterans. If you don’t know any veterans personally, you can drop off handwritten notes to a nursing home or VFW hall with instructions to deliver them to veterans.
And there’s one tradition where anyone can participate. Stop and give thanks for the service and sacrifice of all veterans during a two-minute-long moment of silence. Reflecting at 1:11 p.m. central time on Saturday, November 11th, is a small, meaningful way to honor our veterans.
No matter how you thank or honor our veterans, ensure you do so. For nearly 250 years, they have fought for our freedoms and made great sacrifices. They protect our country, our Constitution, and American values. They shoulder these burdens on behalf of all of us every single day.
One day a year, it is our turn to honor them. The Department of Veterans Affairs deems it a moment “to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.”
(*fun fact for grammar enthusiasts*)
One item has confused many: the missing apostrophe in Veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs confirms the official spelling as Veterans Day, adding that it is a day for recognizing veterans (attributive) instead of a day belonging to veterans (possessive).