Many people enjoy Veterans Day because it means a day off from work or school, but the holiday is much more than that. Do you know how Veterans Day started? Or the story of the Tomb of the Unknown?
The History of Veterans Day
Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day, as it celebrated the temporary cessation (or armistice) of hostilities between Allies and Germany during World War I. This occurred in 1918 on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, and while Armistice Day was celebrated each year from that day forward, it wasn’t legally recognized as a federal holiday until 1938. However, the name was changed from Armistice Day to Veterans Day after World War II and the Korean War to honor all individuals who had served in the armed forces. Over the course of World War II and the Korean War, over 20 million people served in the armed forces. To reflect the sacrifices of all veterans, President Eisenhower signed into effect legislation that changed the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day, in June of 1954. Unlike Memorial Day, which celebrates those members of the military who lost their lives while serving, Veterans Day is a day of tribute for all members of the military, living or not.
The Tomb Of The Unknown
The Tomb of the Unknown, in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., holds the remains of unidentified soldiers who lost their lives in World Wars I and II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Each Veterans Day there is a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown. This year, the wreath will be placed by Vice President Joe Biden. Vice President Biden will then give a speech at the Memorial Amphitheater. President Obama will speak at U.S. Army Garrison in Yongsan in Seoul, South Korea, on Thursday, in addition to participating in a wreath-laying ceremony there.
Veterans Day in other countries
The United States is not the only country with a day designated for the remembrance and appreciation of our service men and women. Other countries that celebrate Veterans of World Wars I and II include Britain, France, Canada and Australia. In Canada, the day is called Remembrance Day, and in Britain, Remembrance Sunday.
Facts about Veterans Day
Please don’t forget about those in the armed forces who have tragically taken their own lives. “Suicide is now the third leading cause of death among soldiers.” Sign Mental Health America’s Petition asking President Obama to honor soldiers who commit suicide by sending letters of condolences.
Photo Thanks to U.S. Army Africa
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