Memorial Day and Veterans Day — every year, people get confused about these two veteran-related holidays.
It happens so much that even the Department of Defense has a frequently-asked-questions page regarding the distinction of these two federal holidays, and we figured this was a great time to set the facts straight about this November holiday, ourselves.
Read on to learn seven Veterans Day facts you might not know:
1. Veterans Day is not Memorial Day
Veterans Day is a federal holiday recognized each November to celebrate and honor all U.S. veterans — deceased or living. Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day, a day to remember those service members who gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives. Memorial Day is in May of each year.
2. November 11 is always Veterans Day
No matter the day of the week, Veterans Day always falls on November 11 each year. It’s also a federal holiday recognized nationwide. With 18.2 million vets living in the United States, it’s a holiday most communities celebrate with festivals, parades, and recognition of local vets.
3. President Eisenhower changed the holiday name
Originally called Armistice Day, that name changed in 1954 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially switched it to Veterans Day.
4. Other countries celebrate it, too
Because World War I was a multi-country effort with thousands of lives lost, other countries involved in the war honor their veterans around this time of year, too. On or near November 11, France, Australia, Canada, and Great Britain pay respects to their vets. The U.K. and Canada call the day Remembrance Day.
5. Arlington National Cemetery hosts an annual event
Each year on November 11 at exactly 11 a.m., Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia holds a Veterans Day event. It starts with a wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The public is always invited to attend.
6. There’s no apostrophe in “Veterans Day”
You’ve probably seen it spelled different ways — including “Veteran’s” or “Veterans’ “— but the Department of Defense firmly states it’s simply “Veterans Day”.
7. All veterans are honored
The holiday was formerly called Armistice Day to commemorate the end of World War I. While it may have been founded in honor of the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month”, Veterans Day is to honor all veterans from all wars.
Take care of a veteran this Veterans Day
If you have the chance, go into a military community during Veterans Day to experience the true spirit of this observed holiday. Even if you don’t live near a military base, your community likely has special events or festivals to honor your local military members.
Want to take it up a notch? Here are a few ideas:
- Stop by the local Veterans of Foreign Wars – Most communities have a local military gathering place like the Veterans of Foreign Wars or American Legion office. Stop by and shake the hands of local veterans. They love for visitors to come in and say hello!
- Honor deceased vets – Today is about honoring all vets, including the ones who have passed away. Stop by a cemetery to clean up vet gravesites or place flags on their site.
- Get involved – There are tons of local and national nonprofit organizations dedicated to taking care of our military vets. Find one whose mission resonates with you and volunteer your time. Operation Gratitude is always looking for help to fill care packages for active duty troops as well as wounded heroes and vets.
- Keep them company – If you’re out and about on Veterans Day at a restaurant — many give out free meals to vets — and see a veteran eating alone, ask if you can sit with them. They might just love the company. You can also stop by a VA home to see how you can help out.
Veterans Day is all about honoring those who served. If you see one, thank them. They probably don’t hear it enough, and Veterans Day is the perfect opportunity to express your gratitude.
What Veterans Day facts do you know? We’d love to hear your favorites. Share in the comments below!
Feature image: U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher S. Muncy
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in November 2021.
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