Veterans Day 2017 and 2018
Veterans Day is a federal holiday held every 11th of November to honor all military personnel who have served in the U.S. armed forces. Veterans Day falls on a Saturday in 2017, with most states observing it on the preceding Friday.
|2017||10 Nov||Fri||Veterans Day Holiday||National except MA & RI|
|11 Nov||Sat||Veterans Day||National|
|13 Nov||Mon||Veterans Day Holiday||RI|
|2018||11 Nov||Sun||Veterans Day||National|
|12 Nov||Mon||Veterans Day Holiday||National|
Veterans Day was originally called “Armistice Day,” and the date was chosen to commemorate the signing of the armistice with Germany that ended hostilities during World War I.
The armistice was signed on November 11th, 1918, however it did not officially end that war. That came on June 28th, 1919 with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. On the other hand, since the U.S. never signed the Treaty of Versailles like the other Allies, one could say that for the U.S. at least, the November 11th armistice really did end the war.
The initial focus of Armistice Day was on the veterans of World War I, though it was always meant to honor all veterans of foreign wars who risked their lives on the battle field to secure the freedoms of all Americans.
Over time, the focus on the 1918 Armistice was lost and the name of the holiday was changed. Additionally, Veterans Day is generally regarded today as honoring all those who ever served in the U.S. Armed Force rather than only those who actually fought in a war.
Another development took place in 1926 when Congress finally decided to declare that World War I was over. It was odd for this recognition of an existing reality to come seven years late. But without the U.S. agreeing to the Treaty of Versailles, there had been no official end to the war. Congress also made November 11th a day of prayer and thanksgiving and expressed a desire that the U.S. flag be on display during this day and that special ceremonies be held.
Armistice Day finally became a permanent, official public holiday in 1938. Eerily enough, the holiday designed to honor World War I veterans became official only a few years before World War II arrived.
The next stage in the history of Veterans Day came in 1954, when it received its present name. Congress made the change when pressed to do so by various private veterans organizations.
A debacle involving Veterans Day came in 1971 when Congress changed the date from November 11th to the fourth Monday in October. This led to chaos because many states refused to recognize the change. Some would be celebrating in November while others did so in October, and the resistance to the date change never broke down. Finally, the date was changed back to November 11th beginning in 1978.
Another interesting Veterans Day “conflict” involves a matter of grammar and spelling. Today, many people spell the holiday as “Veterans’ Day,” but the official government-approved spelling is “Veterans Day.“ The explanation given is that the adjectival spelling instead of the possessive-case spelling shows that the holiday is about honoring veterans rather than a day that belongs to them.
Many observe Veterans Day by simply flying the U.S. flag at their house, having a picnic or cook out with friends and family, and watching war movies or other patriotic programming on TV. Many also donate to veterans’ causes and show appreciation to veterans they meet or are already acquainted with, and some veterans will don their military uniforms on this day, making themselves “easy to spot.”
Veterans Day activities and events
Four ideas on what to do in the U.S. on Veterans Day are:
- Attend the Veterans Day commemoration at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA. You can watch the wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. You may also wish to respectfully walk through the cemetery, where over 40,000 veterans and their families are buried.
- Watch America’s Parade, originally “the Veterans Day Parade,” in New York City. This is the largest Veterans Day parade in the country, bringing in around 25,000 attendees each year. It is held in Manhattan and has been running since 1919. There are also some other large parades to attend, including the biggest one west of the Mississippi River in Albany, Oregon, and there are many smaller parades as well.
- Tour the memorials and monuments in Washington, D.C., that are related in some way to veterans. There are too many to list, but look for the DC War Memorial, which honors local World War I veterans, the National World War II Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
- Spend the day, or part of it, volunteering at a local VA hospital or even just chatting with veterans who are there as patients. Many VAs will have special lunches on Veterans Day for the veterans, and they welcome volunteers to help prepare the meal.
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