Who Are the Veterans?
On Veterans Day, people can honor the bravery and sacrifice of all American veterans. However, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the majority of Americans mistake this event for Memorial Day.
Furthermore, several Americans are unaware of the significance of November 11 as a day to honor veterans. To properly remember our veterans, it is essential that every American is aware of the origins of Veterans Day.
Veterans Day’s past
Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, was first established as a legal holiday in the United States to commemorate the conclusion of World War I, which was declared on November 11, 1918. The 11th of November was declared “dedicated to the cause of global peace and to be subsequently honored and known as ‘Armistice Day'” by law established in 1938. This new legal holiday so paid tribute to World War I veterans.
The Act of 1938 was changed in 1954, after the United States had participated in both World Wars II and Korea, at the demand of veterans service organizations, by replacing the phrase “Armistice” with the word “Veterans.” After this legislation was approved on June 1, 1954, Nov. 11 was designated as a day to honor all American veterans.
By observing four national holidays on Mondays—Birthday, Washington’s Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day—the Uniform Holiday Monday Act of 1968 guaranteed three-day weekends for federal workers. Veterans Day was shifted to the fourth Monday in October as a result of this bill. Numerous states disapproved of this choice and kept the holiday on its original date. On October 25, 1971, the first Veterans Day under the new statute was observed amid much misunderstanding.
President Gerald R. Ford finally signed a measure on September 20, 1975, moving Veterans Day back to its original date of November 11 starting in 1978. Veterans Day has been observed on November 11 ever since.
the Veterans Day Holiday is being observed
The federal government observes the November 11 holiday on Monday (if it falls on Sunday) or Friday if it falls on a non-working day like Saturday or Sunday (if the holiday falls on Saturday). The U.S. Office of Personnel Management determines when the federal government is closed. Non-government organizations are free to close or remain open as they see fit, independent of decisions made by the federal, state, or local governments over their operations. State and municipal government closings are decided locally.
The week of November 11 through November 17, 2001, was declared “National Veterans Awareness Week” by United States Senate Resolution 143, which was passed on August 4, 2001. The resolution requests that efforts be made to educate elementary and secondary school students about the sacrifices and contributions of veterans.
The Distinction Between Memorial Day and Veterans Day
Memorial Day celebrates military personnel who passed away while serving their country or suffered combat-related injuries. Veterans Day is a day set aside to praise and commemorate living veterans who served valiantly in the military — in times of war or peace — while deceased veterans are also remembered.
The following is President Dwight Eisenhower’s letter appointing Harvey V. Higley as head of the Veterans Day National Committee to the Department of Veterans Affairs:
White House Administration
8 October 1954
Hello, Mr. Higley
I have officially declared today, November 11, 1954, Veterans Day, urging all of our citizens to observe it. I sincerely hope that all veterans, their organizations, and the general public would work together to ensure that this day is observed properly and widely. I propose the creation of a Veterans Day National Committee with the belief that it will be very beneficial to organize the planning. I have appointed you to serve as Chairman due to your strong personal involvement as well as your official obligations. You are free to choose any more members for the committee, and I am kindly asking the leaders of all executive branch departments and agencies to offer the committee whatever assistance with its work that they can.
I am completely confident that our country will celebrate Veterans Day 1954 in the proper manner.
THEODORE D. EISENHOWER
Veterans Day Myths You Should Be Aware Of
For a good reason, it’s called “Veterans Day” and not “Veterans Day.” The absence of the apostrophe may appear to be a semantic choice, but it actually has a clear and intentional meaning. Veterans Day is a day to celebrate veterans who are currently in front of us, not one that belongs to them, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.
It used to be observed on the fourth Monday in October as Veterans Day. The Uniform Monday Holiday Act, approved by Congress in 1968, mandated that all federal holidays—including Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Columbus Day, and Washington’s Birthday—be observed on Mondays. In order to encourage tourism and other leisure-related activities that would assist boost the economy, three-day weekends were instituted. With regard to Veterans Day, which has important historical and patriotic significance, many states disagreed with the change. Thus, on September 20, 1975, President Gerald Ford signed Public Law 9497, moving Veterans Day back to November 11 starting in 1978.
In 1954, Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day. Even though it is now widely recognized as Veterans Day. The day of November 11 was first referred to as “Armistice Day” in honor of the armistice that put an end to World War I on that date in 1918. Even though World War I was billed as “the war to end all wars,” it fell short of that goal. Millions of Americans had fought in WWII and the Korean War by the early 1950s. In order to be more inclusive and recognize the contributions of this younger generation of veterans, Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day on June 1, 1954.
With a 96-hour liberty, Marines commemorate their service anniversary and Veterans Day. The Marine Corps celebrates its birthday on November 10 with a customary ball and a cake-cutting ceremony. This unique day occurs the day before Veterans Day, thus many Marines observe both holidays simultaneously with a 96-hour period of freedom.
Once, a campaign was launched to rename Armistice Day to “Mayflower Day.” A tiny group of Americans led by Francis Carr Stifler of the American Bible Society began to oppose the idea of marking Armistice Day after the start of WWII and the realization that WWI did not put an end to all conflicts. The group suggested that since the Mayflower Compact was signed on November 11, 1620, Armistice Day be officially substituted with Mayflower Day. They claimed that the Mayflower Compact should have been given its own name because it served as the foundation for both the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. Of course, the group’s suggestions did not gain traction, and eventually Armistice Day evolved into the Veterans Day that we now recognize.