An official holiday in the US that is observed by almost everybody is Veterans Day, which is your chance to remember the sacrifices made by members of the armed forces since WWI. This is a similar holiday to Armistice Day and Remembrance Day, as they are referred to in other parts of the world. Veterans Day is celebrated on November 11th, which is when WW1 officially ended.
On Veterans Day the aim is to remember the work of all those who have served their country in military service. Do not confuse this with Memorial Day, which commemorates those who died during active duty.
How did Veterans Day come about? It was first referred to as Armistice Day by Woodrow Wilson in 1919 to remember the official end of WW1 one year earlier; however, it was seven years later that US Congress passed a resolution to officially observe the day with ceremonies and in 1938 it was declared an official holiday.
In 1945 a WWII veteran wanted the government to expand the holiday so that the work of all military veterans was recognized, not just those who had died during WWI. Raymond Weeks campaigned and took the idea to General Eisenhower, who gave it his support. The first national Veterans Day celebration took place in 1947 and it was led every year by Weeks until he died in 1985. He was given a Presidential Citizenship medal in 1982 by President Reagan to acknowledge the work he had put in to see the work of all veterans officially recognized.
A large number of schools and workplaces are closed on Veterans Day, allowing people time off to remember and honor the work of the veterans. When November 11th falls on a Saturday, the day can be celebrated either on the Saturday or on the day before. If the day falls on a Sunday, it is usually the Monday that is taken for the celebrations. Federal government offices that are considered to be non-essential are closed and there are no mail deliveries on this day.
How is the day celebrated? A number of fast food and casual eateries offer free meals for veterans on this day, and every individual can do something to show their support on this day.
You could wear a red poppy or yellow ribbon or put together a care package for a serving member of the armed forces. There are a number of websites that you can check out for ideas about what to put in the packs and to find out where to send them. Alternatively you could consider a visit to a veterans’ hospital. Spending time talking to elderly or injured veterans will help to cheer them up and it is enlightening to hear the stories they want to tell about their time in service.
Remember that the veterans fought for peace and freedom and you might be living a very different life without the work they put in.