On November 11th, we honor those who previously served in the United States Military with free and discounted items, but do you know these interesting facts?
1. So who are we honoring?
While Veterans Day discounts often extend to currently serving individuals of the military, Veterans Day is specifically for those who have served in the military and were discharged by any means other than dishonorable. Currently serving members of the military are honored on Armed Forces Day celebrated on the third Saturday in May. Additionally, Memorial Day, celebrated on the last Monday in May, is for those who were killed while in the service of their country. Many states are also honoring female soldiers by adding Women Veterans Day on June 12th, the day of the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act.
2. Why November 11th?
November 11th coincides with Armistice Day, or the official ending of World War I. On the first anniversary of Armistice Day, President Woodrow Wilson addressed the American people describing the significance of the day. The following was that message:
ADDRESS TO FELLOW-COUNTRYMEN
The White House, November 11, 1919.
A year ago today our enemies laid down their arms in accordance with an armistice which rendered them impotent to renew hostilities, and gave to the world an assured opportunity to reconstruct its shattered order and to work out in peace a new and juster set of international relations. The soldiers and people of the European Allies had fought and endured for more than four years to uphold the barrier of civilization against the aggressions of armed force. We ourselves had been in the conflict something more than a year and a half.
With splendid forgetfulness of mere personal concerns, we remodeled our industries, concentrated our financial resources, increased our agricultural output, and assembled a great army, so that at the last our power was a decisive factor in the victory. We were able to bring the vast resources, material and moral, of a great and free people to the assistance of our associates in Europe who had suffered and sacrificed without limit in the cause for which we fought.
Out of this victory there arose new possibilities of political freedom and economic concert. The war showed us the strength of great nations acting together for high purposes, and the victory of arms foretells the enduring conquests which can be made in peace when nations act justly and in furtherance of the common interests of men.
To us in America the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service, and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of nations.
After World War II ended, Raymond Weeks, a veteran of the war, decided that Armistice Day should be extended to all veterans. The first national celebration of “Veterans Day” was celebrated on November 11, 1947 in Alabama. Weeks was supported by champions such as General Dwight D. Eisenhower in his desire to bring “Veterans Day” to the national stage. However, the name was not officially changed until 1954, when a bill was signed by the now President Eisenhower.
3. Veterans, Veteran’s, or Veterans’
While you will see all three variations in calendars, advertisements, and in the media, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs acknowledges the “veterans” option as the correct spelling. The VA explains the spelling without the apostrophe is correct, “because it is not a day that ‘belongs’ to veterans, it is a day for honoring all veterans.”
4. Is it just for United States veterans?
While the name of the day changes, many countries celebrate their veterans in the same way on November 11th. Both Canada and Australia both celebrate on November 11th, while Great Britain celebrates on the closest Sunday to November 11th. However, all three of these countries honor those who died in service to their country on this day as well, wearing the iconic red poppy or having moments of silence. However, as stated above, Veterans Day is about honoring all veterans, so if you know someone who served in another military, it is a day to honor their service as well.
5. How do I show my support?
While it is not unanimous how businesses, schools, and government offices show their support with some closing and some staying open, the common citizen can simply say “thank you for your service” to a member of the military or veteran. Posters can be obtained from select locations or printed here to show your support visually.