In the United States, Veterans Day is the anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended the World War I hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany in 1918.
Veterans Day is celebrated annually on November 11th to honor and thank all military personnel (soldiers, sailors and airmen) who served the United States in all wars.
Originally named Armistice Day, commemorating the signing of the agreement that ended World War I at 11:00AM on November 11, 1918, this federal holiday’s name was changed to Veterans Day in 1954.
Each year, special ceremonies are held at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, as well as various other celebrations and parades around the nation. My own city, San Antonio, will have a huge parade on Saturday along one of the main downtown streets.
The first Armistice Day was held on the grounds of Buckingham Palace, hosted by King George V, on the morning of November 11, 1919. Simultaneously in 1919, President Wilson proclaimed that the day should be filled with solemn pride and gratitude for the victory and there were parades, public meetings and a brief suspension of business activities at 11:00AM in honor of the signing of the accord on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.
The US Congress officially recognized the day in 1926 as a national day of remembrance and made it a legal holiday known as Armistice Day in 1938. In 1954, at the urging of veterans service organizations, Congress changed the holiday’s name to Veterans Day.
Many allied nations around the world observe November 11th as a day of remembrance for their military veterans. In Canada, the day is known as Remembrance Day, honoring veterans who have died in service to their county. In England, France and Belgium the day remains known as Armistice Day, and in 2012 Serbia made the day an official holiday.
In many parts of the world, people observe a one-minute, and more often a two-minute, moment of silence at 11:00AM on November 11th as a sign of respect—the first minute for the roughly 20 million people who died in World War I and the second minute dedicated to the living (the wives, children and family left behind who were deeply affected by the conflict). In recent times, however, this ritual has evolved to include veterans and affected families of all wars.
On this day, take a moment at 11:00AM to remember those who have sacrificed to keep our respective nations free from tyranny. And if you see a veteran this week, take a moment to stop and shake his or her hand and say, “Thank You for your service!”
Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!