Falling on November 11 of each year, the Veterans Day allows Americans all over the world to celebrate the sacrifice and bravery of U.S. veterans over the years.
Although this is an important holiday, many Americans do not know why we commemorate veterans on November 11. Many even confuse Veterans Day with Memorial Day, as accounted by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
It is therefore important that we not only know the history behind Veterans Day but also important facts so that we can properly honor these former servicepersons who served to preserve the liberty we enjoy today.
The precursor of Veterans Day is Armistice Day that also happened to fall on November 11. Armistice Day was a holiday put in place to honor the end of the First World War, which fell on November 11, 1918. On November 11, 1938, a U.S. legislation was passed make November 11 Armistice Day. As such, this holiday was to celebrate World War I veterans.
After 1938, America went witnessed both the Second World War and the Korean War. As such, on June 1, 1954, the U.S. Congress approved a legislation, signed by President Eisenhower, which amended the Act of 1938, which changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day. Many veteran service organizations advocated for the change of name so as to include all veterans in the commemoration.
Under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act starting in 1971, the observation of Veterans Day was moved from November 11 to the fourth Monday of October (October 25, 1971; October 23, 1972; October 22, 1973; October 28, 1974; October 27, 1975; October 25, 1976, and October 24, 1977). Regardless of this move, many states still observed Veterans Day on November 11. The Federal government annulled the format introduced by the Uniform Monday Holiday Act on September 20, 1975, when President Gerald R. Ford signed a law that reverted the observance of Veterans Day back to November 11 starting 1978. The observation of Veterans Day has since remained there until today.
When the holiday falls on a Saturday, the federal government observes it on Friday. In the same vein, if it falls on a Sunday, the federal government observes the holiday on a Saturday. For many private companies when the holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, they offer it as a floating holiday for works, this enables the employees to choose any other day as a holiday.
While the U.S. Office of Personnel Management handles the federal government closings, the state and local government determine local government closings.
Private businesses can decide to close or stay open regardless of decisions taken by the local, state or federal government. In the same vein, individual states or school districts decide if schools close on Veterans Day or not. According to a poll by the Society of Human Resource Management, one of the largest professional human resources membership associations, 21 percent of employers planned on closing for the 2011 Veterans Day.
Many people don't know the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. While both honor service members, memorial honors deceased service members who passed away while in service to their country or due to injuries during their service. Veterans Day, on the other hand, is to honor veterans both living and deceased. Most of the United States has come to view Veterans Day has come as a day to honor living veterans who served both in peacetime and in wartime.
The United States is not the only nation that chooses to honor veterans on November 11 each year. In fact, different countries around the world commemorate veterans on and around November 11. For instance, Australia and Canada observe Remembrance Day on November 11. For Australia, Remembrance Day is more similar to Memorial Day - a day to honor Australia’s wartime dead veterans. In Canada, Remembrance Day is very much similar to Veterans Day in the United States, as it honors all veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces. Many Canadians also wear Red poppies to commemorate their war dead on Remembrance Day. Great Britain observes Remembrance Day on the Sunday nearest to November 11.
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