Veterans Day occurs every 11th day of November, and there’s a big reason for that specific date. Here are 10 things you should know about the special day.
In 2019, Veterans Day falls on the second Monday in November. For most of its existence, the day was based on a specific date, not a day of the week.
Here are 10 things you should know as you prepare to celebrate this nation’s servicemen and servicewomen, past and present.
1. The date is significant.
World War I, which at the time everyone hoped would be the last, ended in 1919 with the signing of a treaty on June 28, 1919. But months earlier, in November 1918, soldiers began a cease-fire. That agreement took effect at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 2018.
That’s why then-President Woodrow Wilson chose Nov. 11 as the first commemoration.
2. It was originally known as Armistice Day.
An armistice is essentially a truce, a time to temporarily end fighting. The Armistice of 1918 brought fighting of World War I to an end. The Allies and Germany signed the agreement in France. Fortunately, it would remain in effect (with extensions) until the Treaty of Versailles took effect on January 10, 1920.
3. It’s not the same as Memorial Day.
Veterans Day honors all of those who have served our country. Memorial Day honors those who gave their lives while serving.
Some incorrectly associate red poppies with Veterans Day. That flower is instead associated with Memorial Day.
4. It became a legal holiday in 1938.
A Congressional Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U.S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made November 11 in each year a legal holiday: “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day’.”
5. It was expanded to include all veterans in 1945.
World War II veteran Raymond Weeks began campaigning to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans, not just those from World War I. He convinced Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and led the first National Veterans Day celebration in Birmingham, Alabama, two years later.
6. It became a national holiday (with its current name) in 1954.
In May, 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower signed into a law a bill officially making Armistice Day a federal holiday. Days later, Congress officially renamed it.
7. For a while, the date changed.
Here’s where things get a bit confusing. The Uniform Monday Holiday Act changed the date from Nov. 11 to the fourth Monday of October. The first October celebration came on Oct. 25, 1971.
That would continue through 1977…thought not everyone was happy about it.
8. Then the date moved back to Nov. 11.
In 1975, then-President Gerald Ford responded to complaints that the day was designed to mark a specific date. He signed a new law in 1975 that returned Veterans Day to Nov. 11.
But that law didn’t take effect until 1978. Since then, Veterans Day has been celebrated on the 11th day of the 11th month.
9. There’s no apostrophe.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is quite adamant about the apostrophe, even adding an explanation about it to its official “Frequently Asked Questions” page:
Veterans Day does not include an apostrophe but does include an s at the end of veterans because it is not a day that “belongs” to veterans, it is a day for honoring all veterans.
10. You should recognize our veterans more than one day a year!
Of any of these, this is the one I hope you already know. You can always say “Thank you for your service” to our veterans.
In fact, there’s no way we could ever say those two words often enough.