Veterans Day is a cherished and solemn occasion celebrated every November 11 in the United States. The federal holiday honors the brave men and women of the US armed forces. This includes everyone who has served in the US Army, Navy, Marine Corps, National Guard, Air Force, and the Coast Guard.
Veterans Day is often confused with Memorial Day, which is observed on the last Monday in May. Both holidays pay respect to US soldiers, but there is a difference. Veterans Day honors all military veterans who have served — living and dead — whether in wartime or peace. Memorial Day pays tribute to those who died while serving the country.
The roots of Veterans Day can be traced back to the end of World War I. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, the Allied forces and Germany came together to sign the armistice, or cease-fire agreement. The accord eventually led to the Treaty of Versailles, which ended the "Great War" on June 28, 1919.
Soon after, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 Armistice Day to honor the soldiers who fought in World War I. The holiday was renamed Veterans Day in 1954 to include the soldiers who fought in World War II (1939 — 1945) and the Korean War (1950 — 1953).
Veterans Day continued to be celebrated on November 11 until the 1968 Uniform Holiday Bill. Enacted to give Americans three-day weekends, it changed the dates of four federal holidays to a predetermined Monday. Under this bill, Veterans Day was moved to the fourth Monday of October.
However, due to the date's significance, many states continued to observe the holiday on November 11. On September 20, 1975, President Gerald Ford ended the confusion by reverting the celebration to its original date. The law went into effect in 1978, and since then, Veterans Day has always been marked on November 11.
Most Americans celebrate Veterans Day by participating in their city or town parades. There are many other ways to appreciate the brave servicemen and women. Invite the veterans in your family or neighborhood for a meal and learn about their experiences. You can also deliver food and supplies to a nearby veteran center. Even better, spend time with soldiers who are too old or injured to leave their homes.
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.