While many of us have our sights set on the Thanksgiving turkey or that big college football rivalry, there’s another special day in November that should not go overlooked. Born out of an acknowledgement of the end of one of history’s most significant wars, Veterans Day falls on Nov. 11 each year. Though our appreciation for our nation’s veterans should be a constant in our lives, today specifically people across the world will take time to gather and recognize our veterans’ incomparable contributions to preserving our way of life. Check out these things you need to know about Veterans Day—including a few statistics about veterans today.
Veterans Day is different from Memorial Day.
Americans tend to get these two holidays confused—thinking that perhaps the only difference is that one is in the summer and one is in the fall; however, it’s important to note the distinction. Veterans are people who served in any branch of the military in times of war or peace. Thus, Veterans Day serves to honor all of those—living or dead, though it is largely focused on thanking living veterans for their service. Memorial Day, on the other hand, exists to remember those military members who died serving our country.
The end of World War I inspired the date of the holiday.
Nov. 11, 1919 marked the first anniversary of the end of World War I. The “eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month” of 1918 signaled the end of the war, known as “Armistice Day.” The name was changed to “Veterans Day” in 1954 at the approval of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Other countries celebrate Veterans Day too.
The United States’ victory in World War I was dependent on help from the country’s allies, so it makes sense that other countries would want to celebrate their veterans as well. Countries like Great Britain, France, Australia and Canada also celebrate their World War I and II veterans in similar fashion on or around Nov. 11 each year. Australia, Canada and Great Britain call the holiday “Remembrance Day.”
The first Veterans Day parade was held in Birmingham.
Birmingham, Alabama hosted the nation’s first Veterans Day parade in 1947—but the location was not random. Birmingham native Raymond Weeks was a World War II veteran who led a delegation to Washington, D.C. to inspire Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower (then the Army Chief of Staff) to create a national holiday honoring all veterans.
The parade is still an annual tradition in Birmingham to this day. Events leading up to the parade include a National Veterans Award Reception and Dinner on Nov. 10 and a Veterans Memorial Service before the parade on Nov. 11. Read more about the National Veterans Day Parade.
The veteran population is expected to decline over the next few decades.
The United States’ total veteran population is expected to decline from 20 million in 2017 to 13.6 million in 2037, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Minority veterans, on the other hand, are predicted to increase from 23.2 percent of the total veteran population to 32.8 percent over that same time period.
There are still millions to thank.
Despite the projected decline, there are still millions of veterans to thank this Veterans Day. As of October 2019, there were 18.2 million veterans in the United States. Nine percent of veterans are women.
Saying “thank you” is one of the most appropriate ways to honor our veterans.
“Happy Veterans Day” may be OK to some, but it is more appropriate to simply thank a veteran on Veterans Day. “Thank you for your service.” “Thank you for sacrificing so much.” “Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do” or a simple, “Thank you” will do. You can also thank your local veterans through actions instead of words, like attending Veterans Day celebrations or just by performing acts of kindness that will benefit them.
In reading these things you need to know about Veterans Day, think about how this information impacts not only the lives of you and your loved ones, but the welfare of our country. On behalf of the McNutt & Partners team, we genuinely thank you for your service.
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