The History of Veterans Day
Many Americans think of Veterans Day as a vacation day, but this holiday is highly significant in U.S. history. The event dates back to the cessation of fighting that essentially ended World War I on November 11, 1918 at 11:00 am. The eleventh day in the eleventh month of the year was declared Armistice Day to commemorate the end of hostilities, with special significance placed on the eleventh hour since it was when the fighting stopped.
Armistice Day was considered a national day of observance beginning in 1926 until it was dedicated as a national holiday in 1938. The holiday was renamed Veterans Day in 1954 by President Eisenhower. Veterans Day was moved to October for several years beginning in 1968, but in 1975 the holiday was returned to its original date of November 11th.
While Memorial Day (observed every May) specifically pays tribute to fallen soldiers who gave up their lives during combat, Veterans Day was intended to honor all soldiers. It was specifically intended to be an opportunity to thank living veterans for their service, whether or not they served during wartime.
Honoring Fallen Veterans
When an unidentified U.S. soldier who had died in World War I was brought home in 1921, his remains were interred at Arlington National Cemetery and commemorated with a memorial that would come to be known as the Tomb of the Unknowns (also called the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier). Since 1937, the Tomb has been continuously guarded around the clock by the Guards of Honor. Each Guard takes 21 paces on each pass in front of the Tomb to signify the 21-gun salute that takes place at an honored soldier’s funeral. Guards of Honor are posted every minute of every day, even in inclement weather. Guards consider it an honor to stand watch over the Tomb, even in rain or snow, as Tomb duty explicitly acknowledges the fact that not all soldiers come home from war.
Showing Gratitude to Veterans
Every year on Veterans Day, a national ceremony is held at the Tomb of the Unknowns. At precisely 11:00 am, the time when the ceasefire was declared that ended combat in World War I, color guards from all branches of the military Present Arms at the Tomb. A presidential wreath is laid to rest at the Tomb while “taps” is played by a military bugler. Many U.S. cities hold their own local commemorations across the country. Ceremonies are coordinated by a presidential committee that is led by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Though ceremonies may vary from one community to the next, the overall message is the same. It’s seen as a day to acknowledge the sacrifices made by our veterans and to thank them for their service in keeping our nation safe. While Veterans Day ceremonies are incredible gestures of appreciation and admiration, one of the best ways civilians can express gratitude is by reaching out to someone who honorably served in the military and thanking that veteran for their service.
If you know someone who served in the military, either in your family, at work, or in your community, take a moment to thank them for their service and dedication. If you don’t personally know any veterans, you can still express your appreciation to a veteran in a number of ways. The Department of Veterans Affairs promotes a civilian volunteer program through their website. You can also make donations through the Veterans Affairs (VA) website that will help benefit your local VA facility.
Thanking a Soldier
In addition to volunteering, you can also express gratitude to U.S. military personnel by sending them letters or thank-you cards. Numerous organizations, like the A Million Thanks project, collect cards and letters that thank active duty U.S. soldiers for their service. These letters are sent to troops stationed all over the world and provide them with encouragement and a strong reminder of the lives those soldiers are defending back home in the United States. Many soldiers write back to thank the civilians who send letters for their kind, uplifting messages.
At 1ink.com, we support all efforts that honor active-duty and retired members of the U.S. military. We’d like to make it even easier for you to send kind words to a soldier this Veterans Day, which is why we’re offering a 12% discount on printing supplies leading up to this honorable holiday. Simply go to www.1ink.com and use the discount code HONOR12. All we ask is that you take the time to thank a soldier or veteran for their service this Veterans Day and remember the sacrifices made by our military members over the years.