If you grew up in the United States, you have probably been observing Veterans Day for as long as you can remember. Although Veterans Day observations have been popular for decades, there are still a lot of misconceptions about it.
Below is a shortlist of items that any patriotic American should know about November 11th.
It’s Veterans Day Not “Veteran’s Day”
Spend more than five minutes on the internet, and you’ll notice that the apostrophe is the most misused and abused punctuation mark.
When it comes to Veterans Day, there is no apostrophe. “Veteran’s Day” would mean we have a national holiday for one singular veteran, while Veterans Day is a day in which we celebrate all veterans.
Veterans Day Should Be Observed Differently than Memorial Day
Because both national holidays have something to do with the military and national pride, people tend to confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Admittedly, the two holidays are quite similar.
On Memorial Day, we recognize those who have given their lives in service to our country, particularly those who lost their lives in battle. On Veterans Day, we recognize all of those who have served their country, both alive and dead. Importantly, we tend to focus more on living veterans on November 11th.
Veterans Days used to be called Armistice Day
World War I formally ended June 28, 1919, with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. However, combat ended around seven months prior, when the Allies and Germany signed an armistice on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
In 1926, Congress formally acknowledged this date as the end of the war and made it an official holiday in 1938, to honor WWI veterans.
After the Second World War and the Korean War, Congress passed a law changing “Armistice Day” to “Veterans Day,” so the veterans of those wars could also be formally recognized.
In 1968, Congress signed the Uniform Holiday Bill, which established some federal holidays — including Veterans Day included — would be celebrated on a Monday, with the idea being that long weekends could spur spending and stimulate the economy. The bill set Veterans Day observance for the fourth Monday of October, but the ensuing confusion made many people unhappy. In fact, several states continued to recognize Veterans Day on November 11.
After a few years, popular opinion in the US had shifted mainly in favor of November 11 observations, likely because of historical significance. On September 20, 1975, President Gerald Ford signed a law that officially returned Veterans Day observations to the original date.
Poppies are Worn Thanks to a Poem
Many people associate wearing a synthetic poppy with Veterans Day, and that tradition largely came about due to a poem called “In Flanders Field”.
The poem described how bright red poppies emerged from combat-ravaged WWI battlefields, where many fallen soldiers were buried. The poem inspired a national campaign of selling poppies made from fabric to support veterans causes.