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Why We Celebrate Veterans Day

by Steve Baker, published

It is always important to remember those who have given everything they have in the defense of something greater than themselves. Currently, the Department of Veterans Affairs projects there are close to 22 million veterans in the U.S.

Veterans Day may not be for members of the military, but rather the country at large. As an active service member and later a veteran, Veterans Day generally means I eat free at Applebee’s or enjoy the awkward feeling that stems from not knowing how to answer when someone thanks me for my service. The importance of Veterans Day is to provide a community observance for the few who have chosen or been chosen to serve in the military.

The spirit of Veterans Day is encapsulated by various functions throughout the United States, but most notably by the laying of a wreath at 11:00 a.m. by the President of the United States on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Still the history attached to such a day of remembrance may not be fully known. In an attempt to rectify any dissonance, here is a short list of facts associated with this national holiday:

  1. Veterans Day was originally known as Armistice Day following the end of hostilities during World War I on November 11, 1918. The day was established as a day of remembrance by President Wilson a year later.
  2. After World War II and Korea, at the urging of veteran service organizations, on June 1, 1954, the 83rd Congress officially changed the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day in order to honor all veterans.
  3. European countries like Britain and France observe Veterans Day on November 11 at 11:00 with a moment of silence.
  4. The burial of unidentified American soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was approved by Congress on March 4, 1921.
  5. After 1968, Veterans Day and three other national holidays were observed on different days than previously established and only on Mondays. The holiday was officially returned to the day of its inception in order to quell confusion after 1975 by President Ford.

Photo Credit: Orhan Cam /

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