Understanding Veterans Day: A Tribute to American Valor
November 11 is Veterans Day in the United States. Veterans Day is an important national holiday. On this day, we recognize all the men and women who stood up and took an oath to defend the US Constitution, which is the foundation of the American republic.
It is important to make a distinction between Veterans Day and Memorial Day. The two can be confused. Memorial Day remembers those who died in service. On the other hand, Veterans Day recognizes all American veterans—living or deceased. We acknowledge and respect all veterans who served the United States honorably during war and in peace.
In a past blog post, I previously suggested that one of the best ways to “thank” a veteran is to listen to them. Moreover, people should not try to one up or impress the veteran with their own relationships or a story about why they did not serve. Often this is done as a way to show solidarity, but it comes across as selfish. So, definitely say “thank you”, but if a veteran is willing to talk about their service, then listen to them. Ask why they served? What did they learn? How does their service continue to impact their life? In my opinion, these conversations are more productive than saying “thank you” and then talking about a relative that you know in the Navy SEALs or Green Berets.
The Origins of Veterans Day
On November 11, 1918. French and German leaders signed an agreement to cease fighting in a railway car in Compiègne Forest in France. In signing the armistice agreement, World War I officially ended. As a result, Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on November 11, 1919, which was the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 that observed Armistice Day in the United States. But, Armistice Day did not become a United States national holiday until 1938.
After World War II, there was an effort among World War II veterans to recognize their service as well. A veteran named Raymond Weeks from Alabama is credited with the idea. Indeed the idea did gained a lot of public attention and popular support. Finally, in 1954, the name “Armistice” was replaced by “Veterans.” Thus, we now call November 11 “Veterans Day.” In the United States, we now recognize and honor the service of all veterans, not just those who served in World War I.
Veterans Day Celebrations Across the Nation
Veterans Day is marked by parades, ceremonies, and other tributes across the United States. Many schools and organizations hold events to educate the public about the role of the military and to acknowledge the sacrifices and contributions of veterans. It’s also common for restaurants and businesses to offer special discounts and promotions to veterans as a token of appreciation.
In recent years, the United States has had a wave of months and days recognizing all kinds of places and people. However, veterans come from all backgrounds, races, religions, and ethnicities. Being a United States veteran means that you served under one common flag with a unified goal to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic.” As a result, Veterans Day is one of the most unifying national holidays in the United States. We hope to see a day when the parades get larger and the crowds grow in size. During a time that can feel polarizing and disunited, national holidays like Veterans Day help foster civic pride, community, and a sense of patriotic cohesion among American citizens.
The Importance of Recognizing Veterans
Serving in the military is not easy. Military servicemembers spend a lot of time away from their family and friends. It can be enormously hard on immediate families. As a result, military servicemembers make a lot of personal sacrifices. However, US military members feel called to serve. Most of them feel a sense of duty in service of a cause that is greater than themselves. This is one of the major reasons why we celebrate their service. Thus, Veterans Day is an opportunity to come together and show gratitude to those who made that decision and committed themselves to service. It’s a time to reflect on the freedoms and rights that are safeguarded by the military and to recognize the personal sacrifices made by service members and their families.
How to Show Support on Veterans Day
There are numerous ways to show support for veterans. Below is a partial list of some ideas:
- Attend a local Veterans Day Events: Participate in or attend local parades and ceremonies. In the Washington D.C. area, Arlington National Cemetery will host a National Veterans Day Observance at 11 a.m. in the Memorial Amphitheater. However, if you look around your own hometown, you might find smaller Veterans Day events. Consider attending. Also, think about volunteering or helping to plan one of these events. Spread the word through e-mail, social media, and word of mouth. Make sure people know that today is Veterans Day.
- Volunteer: Many organizations offer opportunities to volunteer in support of veterans. As an example, there are many homes where elderly veterans live. One idea is to volunteer time at a veterans home. Spending time with veterans, especially the elderly, is an important way to let them know that their country cares about them. For more ideas, this article from Military.com has five suggestions.
- Educate and Raise Awareness: Share information about the history and significance of Veterans Day. After reading this post, share it via e-mail or social media. We want to raise awareness about today and get people excited to celebrate the veterans of our great country! This website is dedicated to promoting military knowledge and education. At the same time, we maintain a deep respect for our military and the men and women who served.
- Support Veteran-Owned Businesses: Patronize businesses owned and operated by veterans.
- Express Gratitude: Take the opportunity to thank veterans but also listen to them and their stories.
Veterans Day is more than just a federal holiday that becomes a three day weekend. Veterans Day is an opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices made by our nation’s heroes. It reminds us to never take for granted the freedoms we enjoy. Our constitutional protections are safeguarded by the military members who are willing to defend them. So, on Veterans Day, let us all show our profound gratitude and respect for America’s veterans.
Thank you veterans!