Occasions 365

Veterans Day

Honor the fallen on Veterans Day

Many countries throughout the world set aside a special holiday for honoring the veterans who fought in wars in defense of the nation, and especially for those who were injured or died in combat. In the United States, this occasion is known as Veterans Day and is celebrated on November 11. The holiday was formerly known as Armistice Day, and was instituted by President Woodrow Wilson after the conclusion of World War I. It was initially created to honor veterans of the First World War.

The history of Veterans Day was significantly shaped by a man from Kansas named Alvin King, who in 1953 made the suggestion that the holiday be expanded to include veterans from all wars. As World War II had just drawn to a close a few years earlier, King's idea was instituted, and today, the occasion honors the past and present military service and achievements of all veterans. As such, the name of the holiday was changed from Armistice Day to Veterans Day in 1954.

Between 1971 and 1978, Veterans Day was shifted from its usual position of November 11 to the fourth Monday in October, as part of a move to standardize weekday holidays to Mondays. However, it was eventually moved back to November 11, and has been celebrated on that day ever since, regardless of which day of the week it falls on.

Celebrating Veterans Day

Veterans Day is a national holiday, and as such, banks and government offices are closed, as are most schools. Municipalities across the country hold events honoring local veterans, which typically include large assemblies, in which veterans don their uniforms, and moments of silence in remembrance of the fallen. Veterans Day poems -- both famous works by well-known authors and verses composed by friends and family members -- are often read aloud or sent on greeting cards.

While it is not exclusively dedicated to veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is closely related. It is set aside as a time to remember those who have passed on, whether they are family members, ancestors, friends or veterans who died in the service of their country. It is celebrated in May.

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