Veteran’s Day Countdown
until November 11, 2017
Veteran’s Day Facts and History
Veterans’ Day is an official public holiday in the United States. The purpose of the holiday is to honor men and women who served in any branch of the United States military, including the U.S. Armed Forces, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Coast Guard.
Memorial Day Versus Veterans Day
Many Americans don’t fully understand the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day, as both holidays deal with military service. The key difference between the holidays is that Veterans’ Day is meant to honor military service members who are still alive and are either actively in the military or are retired. Memorial Day pays tribute to men and women who died serving their countries and by a larger definition any deceased military veteran.
When is Veterans Day Celebrated?
Veterans’ Day is held on November 11 every year. The date is significant as it honors the date of the Armistice with Germany that brought World War I to a close. The official time and date of the armistice was 11:00AM on November 11, 1918.
History of Veterans Day
Veterans’ Day has its origins in a declaration that Woodrow Wilson made in 1919 on the one-year anniversary of the Armistice with Germany. He asked Americans to spend the day remembering the fighting of World War I and dubbed the date “Armistice Day.”
Each year that followed, similar proclamations were made. On June 4, 1926, Congress passed a resolution asking then-president Calvin Coolidge to enter an Armistice Day proclamation every year. Armistice Day was made a legal holiday on May 13, 1938, by an act of Congress.
After World War II, patriotic Americans began saying that Armistice Day needed to be expanded to honor not only the heroes of World War I but also those who fought in the second World War. Raymond Weeks of Birmingham, Alabama, organized the first universal celebration for veterans in 1945. Today, he is known as the “Father of Veterans’ Day.”
Although there was general support for expanding the official holiday to include all veterans in 1945, it was not until 1954 that the law was changed to rename Armistice Day Veterans’ Day.
In 1971, the passing of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act resulted in Veterans’ Day observances being moved from November 11 to the fourth Monday in October. After many people protested the move, Congress changed the date back in 1978.
How Veterans Day is Celebrated
Federal and state government offices are usually closed in honor of Veterans’ Day. If the date falls on the weekend, Veterans’ Day is usually observed on the following Monday or the previous Friday. Schools and private businesses usually remain open; however, public buildings often fly flags. Some service businesses, retail stores and restaurants give veterans discounts in honor of Veterans’ Day.
In Washington DC, many monuments and memorials are decorated in honor of the occasion, and there is usually a formal ceremony held. Cities and towns across the country may hold similar events to honor veterans.