Facts About Veterans Day You Probably Didn’t Know
Veterans Day is a holiday recognized throughout the United States as well as in some Western European countries.
It’s one of the holidays that doesn’t “float”, or change the date of its observance each year. Below, we’ll discuss the facts about Veterans Day.
Facts About Veterans Day
The History of Veterans Day
November 11, 1918, was the date that the armistice began, signaling the end of World War 1.
A year later, in 1919, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation making the anniversary of the war’s end Armistice Day to remember the soldiers and others who served in the war.
In 1926, Congress requested that the sitting president issue a proclamation each year to honor the person who served in the war.
The annual proclamations were to be accompanied by ceremonies. A decade later, the observation of Armistice Day became an official national holiday in 1938 through another act by Congress.
In contrast to Memorial Day, Armistice Day was always meant to honor the soldiers who fought in the war but were not killed.
In the 1940s, the name of the observance was changed to Veterans Day to honor service personnel who served in the numerous conflicts in which the United States has been involved.
Changes in the 1970s
For a period of six years in the 1970s, Veterans Day was observed on the fourth Monday in October to give federal employees a guaranteed three-day weekend.
Congress mandated the change in 1968 and it took effect in 1971. However, veterans groups and others opposed the change.
The observance was moved back to its original date by an order of President Gerald Ford in 1975 to take effect in 1978. Since then, it has been observed on Nov. 11.
Today the holiday is observed on the day on which it falls unless that occurs on a weekend. Then Veterans Day is observed by federal and state government offices, many schools and businesses on a Friday before or the Monday after Nov. 11.
Origin of Veterans Day Celebrations
After World War 2 ended, an Alabama native felt that all veterans, not just those who had served in World War 1, should be honored with a national day of appreciation.
He was the head of a delegation who approached President Dwight D. Eisenhower, then the President of the United States, with the idea of honoring the service of all veterans.
The soldier’s hometown of Birmingham, Alabama held the first Veterans Day Parade on Nov. 11, 1947. Today observances at cemeteries and parades are held in many communities on or around Nov. 11.
Why Some People Wear Poppies
Some people wear red poppies to commemorate Veterans Day. Although these flowers are more frequently seen at Memorial Day ceremonies, the red poppies are a reminder of the numerous such flowers that grew in the fields of France and Belgium where a large number of the battles of World War 1 were fought.
Statistics on Veterans
Numbers vary, but nearly 22 million veterans are still alive in the US, according to recent statistics from the U.S. Census. Of those who saw action in World War 2, around 600,00 are still alive.
Currently, about 9.6 million veterans are currently over the age of 65.
Veterans of the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan make up the largest number of service people from one particular conflict. A statistic that has only recently been reached.
In addition, about two million veterans who served exclusively during peacetime are also included in the statistics.
How School Students are Encouraged to Observe Veterans Day
To help upcoming generations remember the importance of observing Veterans Day, the Paralyzed Veterans of America hold a National Veterans Day Poster & Essay Contest for students in elementary and middle schools.
Since 2004, the group has sought ways to “creatively and actively” involve students in the observance of Veterans Day.
The grand prize winners are invited to Washington, D.C. to attend the Veterans Day observance ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.
The grand prize winners, as well as the top essay and poster finalist for each grade, are featured on the Paralyzed Veterans of America website.
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