Veterans Day: How to Observe and Recognise
November 11th marks a federal holiday in the United States. It is a time to honour and recognise those who served in the military of this country. In today’s blow, we delve into the history of Veterans Day. And, give some suggestions of how you can observe it this year.
What is Veterans Day?
Veterans Day, observed annually on November 11th, honours those who served in the United States Armed Forces. It coincides with other holidays around this day including:
- Armistice Day – commemorating the treaty signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at the end of the war. It came into effect at the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918. Because it had to be extended several times, the official peace agreement is the Treaty of Versailles signed in 1919.
- Remembrance Day – observed in Commonwealth member states in honour of the lives lost in WW1 in the line of duty. In the UK, there is a traditional two minutes of silence on the eleventh hour. Additionally, the buying and wearing of poppies. These symbolise the fallen soldiers. What’s more, the donated money goes to veteran charities and organisations.
The US opted to expand the ideas of Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans, not just those who lost their lives in World War I.
Additionally, there are three other military holidays which differentiate themselves from Veterans Day.
- Memorial Day – observed in May and honours those who died, not those who are veterans.
- Armed Forces Day – also observed in May and honours those currently serving in the military and therefore not veterans.
- Women Veterans Day – observed in June and recognised by a growing number of states in the efforts of women who served in the US military.
The holiday is commonly printed as “Veteran’s Day” or “Veterans’ Day”. However, the correct spelling is without the apostrophe. This is because the day is for honouring veterans, not a day that belongs to them.
How to Honour and Celebrate
- Thank those for their service. If you have a veteran at home, take the time to listen to their stories and thank them for their daily sacrifice.
- Celebrate. Support the businesses that support our military. Offer to “pay it forward” to those behind you in coffee shops and other establishments.
- Connect. Reach out to the veteran community and listen to their stories. Volunteer or donate to organisations that support veterans as they re-enter society. Especially those dealing with mental illness and/or faced with homelessness.
- Fly a Flag. But, remember to follow the correct flag code! #1 there should be thirteen horizontal stripes and fifty stars. #2 the flag is only displayed from sunrise to sunset. #3 the flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously. #4 if displaying other flags, the US flag should be the highest. #5 the flag must be flown not draped over hoods of cars etc.
- Visit a Hospital. Volunteer at a hospital and spend a day with a veteran. Check with your nearest facility to see what their policies are at the moment.
- Remember. War is not a distant memory for the world. Remember that, if we fight, it should be for peace and acceptance, not power. Additionally, honouring one group of people does not mean you should be hostile to a perceived “other”.