Reflecting on the Importance of Veterans Day

Daleo Freeman

November 11, 2023

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Every year on November 11, Americans can reflect on the importance of Veterans Day, which is to honor and celebrate veterans for the sacrifices they have made serving for the common good. To help you understand this holiday more deeply, here are some things you may not already know about this day of remembrance.

While World War I officially ended on June 28, 1919, with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, the actual fighting ended seven months earlier due to an armistice agreement, otherwise known as a cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – Nov. 11, 1918.

The following year the day was commemorated as Armistice Day, which was intended to remind nations to seek peaceful relationships between one another.

During World War II, American efforts saw the greatest mobilization of the U.S. military in the nation’s history, with more than 16 million Americans serving in the various branches. 

In 1954, after lobbying efforts by veterans’ service organizations, the 83rd U.S. Congress amended the 1938 act that had made Armistice Day a holiday, by replacing the word “Armistice” with “Veterans.” President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the legislation on June 1, 1954. Since then, Nov. 11 has been a day where we honor American veterans of all wars.

This year, consider taking time to honor veterans in your community by attending a local Veterans Day event. In the United States, an official wreath-laying ceremony is held at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, while parades and other celebrations are held in states all over the country.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.” 

- John F. Kennedy in his 1963 Thanksgiving proclomation, issued before his death.

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