Honoring Veterans This November 11
A time to honor our former and current service members, Veterans Day was originally set aside as an American holiday to commemorate the ending of World War I on November 11, 1918. Originally called “Armistice Day,” November 11, 1938 was “dedicated to the cause of world peace, and to be hereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day.”
In the years that followed, American soldiers served in the Second World War and the Korean War. The 83rd U.S. Congress changed the Act of 1938, replacing the word “Armistice” with “Veterans” at the suggestion of veterans’ service organizations. When it was approved in June of 1954, November 11 became Veterans Day: A day to honor American veterans, living and deceased, who served our country in all wars.
The distinction between Memorial Day and Veterans Day is one that many Americans struggle with, according to the VA. Memorial Day is a day set aside to remember and honor military service members who died in service or as a result of war-inflicted injuries. The Veterans Day holiday is set aside to thank and honor both living and deceased veterans who served honorably in war or in peace.
Each year, the Department of Veterans Affairs hosts a national celebration ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as several other regional ceremonies across the country. The national service begins each November 11 at 11 a.m. by placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. A parade of colors by veterans’ organizations progresses the service into the Memorial Amphitheater, where typically there are remarks by dignitaries to honor and thank all those who served and serve in the United States Armed Forces.
Over the past few years, a program launched by the History Channel has garnered popularity: Take a Vet to School Day created to bridge veterans and students across the country. Schools are encouraged to invite veterans to visit, share their stories, and receive thanks for their service. These events provide a unique way for students to hear real stories from real veterans, express their gratitude and show support. The veterans’ stories help connect generations and help young people learn about the past.
Whether or not you know someone who is serving or has served, taking time to honor and remember veterans is something that demonstrates respect for their service to our nation. Below are some ways that you can celebrate veterans this November 11.
Visit a Battleground: Most battleground memorials are managed by the National Park Service, and offer thoughtful, often poignant insights into the lives and circumstances of the people involved. There are battle sites in nearly every state, and they offer a variety of opportunities to teach children of all ages about history, war, and the sacrifices of veterans and their families.
Communicating With the Troops: Send a soldier a care package to say thank you. This is a wonderful way to show appreciation and to bring them a little bit of the comforts of home.
Learn Flag Etiquette: Far too often, our flag is displayed incorrectly or goes neglected, which is something that most veterans find offensive and disrespectful. One of the simplest ways to honor a veteran is to be respectful to the United States flag. Read about proper treatment, care, hanging and flying of our flag and teach your child proper flag protocol.
Volunteer at a VA hospital: If you have a VA hospital in your community, call them or stop by to find out what kind of volunteer opportunities they have available. Whether you can spend an hour a week or several hours a day, any amount of time you can devote to serving those who have served us is a fantastic way to honor our nation’s veterans.
This November 11, take time to reflect on the heroic men and women who have fought to secure the freedom we enjoy today. Whether you participate in a formal ceremony or simply say “thank you” to a uniformed service member, show them that their sacrifices are not taken for granted.