Special to The Source
Veterans Day is a U.S. legal holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars. Veterans Day 2023 will occur on Saturday, November 11 with a parade and a memorial service at 1100 at Community Park.
A lot of people think it’s “Veteran’s Day” or “Veterans’ Day,” but they’re wrong. The holiday is not a day that “belongs” to one veteran or multiple veterans, which is what an apostrophe implies. It’s a day for honoring all veterans — so no apostrophe needed.
Veterans Day is NOT the Same as Memorial Day.
Memorial Day is a time to remember those who gave their lives for our country, particularly in battle or from wounds they suffered in battle. Veterans Day honors all of those who have served the country in war or peace — dead or alive — although it’s largely intended to thank living veterans for their sacrifices.
In 2021, 42.14% of the male Americans aged 75 years and over were veterans — the most out of any age group or gender. In comparison, 0.9% of the female Americans aged 75 and over were veterans in that year.
In 2021, 2.95% of the male Americans aged under 34 were veterans, the least of any age group; 0.68% of the female Americans aged under 34 were veterans.
In 1918, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in World War I, then known as “the Great War.” Commemorated in many countries as Armistice Day the following year, November 11th became a federal holiday in the United States in 1938. In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became known as Veterans Day.
The Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, marking the official end of World War I. Nonetheless, the armistice date of November 11, 1918, remained in the public imagination as the date that marked the end of the conflict.
One year later, in November 1919, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. The day’s observation included parades and public gatherings, as well as a brief pause in business and school activities at 11 a.m.
On November 11, 1921, an unidentified American soldier killed in the war was buried at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C. On the same day the previous year, unidentified soldiers were laid to rest at Westminster Abbey in London and at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
Red poppies, a symbol of World War I from their appearance in the beloved poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae, are sold in Canada and the United Kingdom on Remembrance Day to raise money for veterans or worn in the lapel as a tribute.
On June 4, 1926, Congress passed a resolution that the “recurring anniversary of [November 11, 1918] should be commemorated.
By that time, 27 state legislatures had made November 11 a legal holiday. An act approved May 13, 1938, made November 11 a legal Federal holiday, “dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day.’”
American effort during World War II saw the greatest mobilization of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force in the nation’s history (more than 16 million people); some 5.7 million more served in the Korean War.
In 1954, after lobbying efforts by veterans’ service organizations, the 83rd U.S. Congress amended the 1938 act that had made Armistice Day a holiday, striking the word “Armistice” in favor of “Veterans.” President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the legislation on June 1, 1954. From then on, November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
Great Britain, France, Australia and Canada also commemorate the veterans of World War I and II on or near November 11th: Canada has Remembrance Day, while Britain has Remembrance Sunday (the second Sunday of November). In Europe, Great Britain and the Commonwealth countries it is common to observe two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. every November 11.
In the United States, an official wreath-laying ceremony is held each Veterans Day at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, while parades and other celebrations are held in states around the country.