Veterans Day; All You Need To Know

Veterans day, hitherto known as Armistice Day is a federal holiday observed annually in the United States on November 11 to commemorate veterans who served in the military and discharged under conditions other than dishonourable.

It falls on the same day as other holidays commemorating the conclusion of World War I, such as Armistice Day and Remembrance Day, which are observed in other nations including France and Canada. The Armistice with Germany came into force at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, effectively ending major hostilities in World War I. In 1954, Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day at the request of key veteran groups in the United States.

Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day, a May public holiday in the United States. Veterans Day commemorates all U.S. military veterans, whereas Memorial Day honors those who died while serving in the military. Armed Forces Day, another May military holiday, commemorates individuals presently serving in the United States military. Women Veterans Day is also observed by a rising number of states in the United States, which celebrate women who have served in the military.

On the inaugural Armistice Day, November 11, 1919, US President Woodrow Wilson sent a telegram to his people, expressing his feelings on what the day meant to Americans:

ADDRESS TO FELLOW-COUNTRYMEN

The White House, November 11, 1919.

A year ago today our enemies laid down their arms in accordance with an armistice which rendered them impotent to renew hostilities, and gave to the world an assured opportunity to reconstruct its shattered order and to work out in peace a new and juster set of international relations. The soldiers and people of the European Allies had fought and endured for more than four years to uphold the barrier of civilization against the aggressions of armed force. We ourselves had been in the conflict something more than a year and a half.

With splendid forgetfulness of mere personal concerns, we remodeled our industries, concentrated our financial resources, increased our agricultural output, and assembled a great army, so that at the last our power was a decisive factor in the victory. We were able to bring the vast resources, material and moral, of a great and free people to the assistance of our associates in Europe who had suffered and sacrificed without limit in the cause for which we fought.

Out of this victory there arose new possibilities of political freedom and economic concert. The war showed us the strength of great nations acting together for high purposes, and the victory of arms foretells the enduring conquests which can be made in peace when nations act justly and in furtherance of the common interests of men.

To us in America the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service, and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of nations.

WOODROW WILSON

On June 4, 1926, the United States Congress passed a resolution proposing that President Calvin Coolidge make yearly proclamations commemorating November 11 with accompanying ceremonies.   A law passed by Congress on May 13, 1938 (52 Stat. 351; 5 U.S. Code, Sec. 87a) declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day’.”

Because it is a federal holiday, some American workers and many students have Veterans Day off from work or school. When Veterans Day falls on a Saturday then either Saturday or the preceding Friday may be designated as the holiday, whereas if it falls on a Sunday it is typically observed on the following Monday. When it falls on the weekend many private companies offer it as a floating holiday where employees can choose some other day.

Legally, two minutes of silence is recommended to be observed at 2:11pm Eastern Standard Time.

Non-essential federal government offices are closed. No mail is delivered. All federal workers are paid for the holiday; those who are required to work on the holiday sometimes receive holiday pay for that day in addition to their wages.

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