14 March 2021 (updated)

Veterans Day: Why We Celebrate and Why It Matters

Veterans Day isn't just a day of extra discounts and sales before Thanksgiving or a Lil Wayne song. It's an important holiday when we honor the men and women who have served our country in the armed forces. Read on to learn about this November day of remembrance.

What is Veterans Day?

Veterans Day originally began as "Armistice Day" November 11, 1919, commemorating the one-year anniversary after World War I. It became a National Holiday in 1938, and by 1954, President Eisenhower changed the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.

Veterans Day serves as a day when we remember the men and women who have served their country in the military. Veterans Day differs from Memorial Day since it focuses on the living veterans, whereas Memorial Day is when we honor those who died in the service of our country. It's also different than Labor Day, which honors all those who are working, without any type of military connotation.

Veterans Day and Beyond

Veterans Day is one of many holidays where we honor members of the armed services all over the world. In the United States, we also celebrate Armed Forces Day on May 19, which is an umbrella day for everyone who has served in the military. June 14 marks Flag Day, where we celebrate the adoption of our flag so we have a visual symbol of our nation.

We even have National Public Lands Day on the fourth Saturday of September. This day commemorates the actual land our military has fought to defend. Some might organize a peace walk to celebrate the peace we enjoy on our American soil.

How Do We Celebrate Veterans Day?

There are several ways to commemorate this day. Here are a few ideas:

  • Teach your children about the veterans in your family. Many of us have relatives who have served in the Gulf War, Vietnam War, Korean War, or World War II. Make sure they share their experiences with the next generations. It's important that our children and grandchildren understand that piece of their family history. You might even be the descendant of a notable military family like the Fighting McCooks.
  • Observe a minute or two for prayer or reflection in honor of veterans. We have a National Moment of Remembrance at 3 pm on Memorial Day, but why not take a little time to remember those who have served this country and are still with us?
  • Start your own Veterans Day traditions. Put up patriotic decorations, wear red, white, and blue, sing some patriotic songs, or read great American quotes. Do something simple with your family to commemorate the day.

Editorial credit: Perry Correll / Shutterstock.com

  • Go to a military parade. You can get a great sense of the different veteran and groups. You might see the Vietnam Veterans of America or the American Legion. There are veterans of every ethnicity and age group, from Asian Pacific Americans to Native Americans.
  • Support our troops. We have more ways to support troops and their families in this article, but for starters, just say "Thank you" when you see someone in uniform or let a veteran or military member know how much you appreciate their service.
  • Many restaurants will give Veterans free meals. We can be equally generous with our time and resources when we see someone in uniform.

Thank You, Veterans

Though the American system of government isn't perfect, and we have plenty of areas of political disagreement, we owe our veterans a great deal of gratitude for defending our freedoms. In the United States, we don't have a Mandate of Heaven or dictatorship that could diminish our basic liberties. We can thank our veterans for that!

So next time you see an email about a Veterans Day sale, take a moment to remember those who fought to defend the capitalism and democracy we enjoy today. And when you see a veteran, be sure to thank them for their service.

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