Veterans Day is a well-known, but often misunderstood holiday. Americans of all ages need to know why it is so important.
The History Of Veterans Day
Initially, Veterans Day had a different name and an entirely different meaning. A year after World War 1 ended, the date was chosen by President Woodrow Wilson. Known as Armistice Day, it was intended to honor Americans who died while serving their country, and to show gratitude for the victory achieved and the end of the war.
Because of this, the official observance was on the eleventh month of the year, the eleventh day, at the eleventh hour. In 1926, President Coolidge issued proclamations requesting this observance. Armistice Day became a legal holiday in 1938.
A World War II veteran in 1945 decided Armistice Day should be expanded to honor all veterans. It was eventually signed into law by President Eisenhower in 1954. The same year, congress changed the word Armistice to Veterans, and the holiday has been Veterans Day ever since.
Confusion Over Veterans Day
Even people who know the history of Veterans Day can be confused about its observance and celebrations. One reason is a change that occurred in 1971 due to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. Similar to many other holidays, it is often not observed on the correct date.
A second reason is confusion over legal holidays. Some schools are open, and some are closed. Many businesses remain open, but there is no mail delivery or nonessential federal offices. The holiday observance depends on where a person lives, works, or attends school.
Why Is It Spelled Veterans Day?
You may wonder why there is no apostrophe in the word Veterans Day. The difference shows the holiday honors veterans, instead of belonging to veterans.
Why We Should Celebrate Veterans Day
Numerous other countries have similar holidays. Some still call it Armistice Day, while others call it Remembrance Day. In the United States, though, it is important for all Americans to celebrate Veterans Day every year. Even immigrants like Kansas City’s Amit Raizada is proud to understand the importance of American holidays.
Throughout history, men and women have served their country. While Memorial Day honors servicemen and women who died during their service, Veterans Day honors everyone who has served.
Serving one’s country has changed throughout history. In the distant past, boys who were not old enough for military service often joined anyway. Until the military draft officially ended in 1973, young men could be expected to be drafted when they turned 18 years of age.
Since 1973, the United States has had an all-volunteer military. Young men and women who are not obligated to serve their country often choose to do so. These men and women make many sacrifices, including risking their lives, because they believe it is right to serve their country.
Whether drafted or volunteered, servicemen and women deserve to be honored. It is not asking too much for Americans to take one day of the year to reflect on how much veterans have done for our country. The freedoms that most Americans take for granted would not have been possible, nor would it be maintained today, if it were not for our veterans.
This is one reason Veterans Day parades and similar events are important. Unlike other holidays, in which the true meanings can be lost, parades make it clear who we are honoring and why.
Think of how Veterans Day is observed in your town or city. Make a point of becoming involved with the celebrations every year. You may have had numerous loved ones who served in the military. Even if you did not, you can honor everyone who served on this special day.