When is Veterans Day?

Honoring Veterans
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November 11 is the day we recognize and honor Veterans in the United States of America. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a Veteran is: “a former member of the armed forces.” This special day is a time to say “Thank You” and to honor all those brave men and women who have stepped up to protect and defend the United States of America and the world from evil. Another important day is Memorial Day; it is the day we show our respect and remember the brave heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice and gave their lives for our country, and we should also include these heroes in our thoughts and prayers on Veterans Day.

History of Veterans Day

November 11 was originally called Armistice Day because of the signing of the Armistice that signaled the ending of World War I (“The Great War”). 

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This Armistice was signed at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, and the Allied Forces of World War I and Germany signed it. Even though all fighting did not stop until the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, on June 28, 1919[1], we celebrate and honor these brave heroes on November 11. In fact, President Woodrow Wilson declared November 11, 1919 as the first Armistice Day with this declaration:

"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations..." [2]

After World War II and the Korean War, U. S. Representative Edward Rees from Kansas proposed a bill in Congress to change the name of Armistice Day to Veterans Day, and on June 1, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed it into law. Since then, November 11 has been called Veterans Day, and it is the date we honor all those who served in our armed forces.[3]

However, the 1968 U. S. Congress changed the date to the fourth Monday in October, to take effect in 1971, as part of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.[4] But because of the significance of November 11, many Americans chose to continue honoring Veterans on that date. Because of this, on:

. . .September 20th, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978.[5]

Thank You Veterans

On this special day, remember, too, all the courageous men and women who have served in the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and who are now serving in the War on Terror. Since 1973, the draft is no longer used, so our military is now an all-volunteer force. Our current military has volunteered to protect and keep our country free and safe as well as helping other countries protect their rights, freedoms and to rid the world of evildoers.

Please thank a past or current member of our military whenever you have the opportunity. For instance, when you see these brave men and women dressed in uniform, walk up to them, thank them and tell them how much you appreciate what they are doing for you and your country. Pray for the courageous soldiers who are putting everything on the line to protect your rights and your freedoms.

Each year on November 11, there is a moving Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery where representatives from each military branch make up the color guard, and the President places a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. If you find yourself in or around the Washington, D.C. area on this day, please attend this poignant and important ceremony. Otherwise, in towns and cities all across the United States, parades, services and functions are held on this special date.

Suggestions for Honoring Veterans

One easy way is to send cards and letters to our troops thanking them for their service. Also, remember them during the Holidays by sending packages. There are many organizations that send packages, stockings and cards to our military, and they need your help. Check in your neighborhood, your church or go online to find a group, and support their efforts.

Another easy way is to offer a helping hand. Many of our seniors have served our country, and they could be lonely and/or need some assistance. If you have a retired military person in your neighborhood, spend some time with them and offer simple services to make his or her life easier. While helping them, you will probably gain more than you give.

Yet, another way is to follow their example – volunteer to serve your country. President Ronald Reagan, the 40thPresident of the United States, said:

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.[6]

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Last, but not least, don’t forget to honor the brave military men and women in your family. Just because they are your spouse, father, mother, brother, sister or child does not mean that their service should be taken for granted and they not be thanked. Make it a special day in your home and family.

My Hero’s Dog Tags
Credit: Southerngirl09

In addition to honoring our American heroes, show them, and everyone, how proud you are to be a citizen of the United States of America by flying our flag. When given the opportunity, stand, remove your hat, place your right hand over your heart, proudly say the Pledge of Allegiance and sing along with the Star Spangled Banner. Be happy and be proud that you are a citizen of this great country.

Adding an American flag to your home exterior makes an important, patriotic statement.

In closing, I want to say “Thank You” to all who have served, and who are serving now, for all you have done to keep the United States of America safe and free. God bless you and keep you safe.