Veterans Day: Date, History, Meaning, Activities & Quotes

July 13, 2022 5 min read

Veterans Day honors military veterans who have served in the United States Armed Forces. Veterans Day, as opposed to Memorial Day, which celebrates those who died while serving, recognizes all military veterans, including those who are still alive.

1. What is the Date of Veterans Day?

Veterans Day began on November 11, 1919, as "Armistice Day," the first anniversary of the end of World War I. In 1926, Congress passed a resolution calling for an annual observance, and November 11 became a national holiday in 1938. Unlike Memorial Day, Veterans Day honors all American veterans, living and dead, but especially those who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.

2. History of Veterans Day

Veterans Day, previously known as Armistice Day, was established by President Woodrow Wilson on November 11, 1919, a year after World War I ended. The goal of Armistice Day was to remember and honor the dead troops of World War I for their sacrifice and bravery. Seven years later, on November 11, 1926, Congress passed a resolution urging that President Calvin Coolidge issue annual proclamations declaring Armistice Day a legal holiday.

In 1945, World War II veteran Raymond Weeks proposed expanding Armistice Day to honor all soldiers, not only those who perished in World War I. He led a delegation to General Dwight Eisenhower, who was enthusiastic about the plan. Weeks then arranged the first Veterans Day event in Alabama in 1945, and he did so every year until he died in 1985. President Reagan awarded him the Presidential Citizenship Medal in 1982. Elizabeth Dole dubbed Weeks the "Father of Veterans Day."

Ed Rees, a U.S. Representative from Emporia, Kansas, introduced a measure to Congress in 1954 to establish the holiday. On May 26, 1954, Eisenhower, who was president at the time and was also from Kansas, signed the bill into law, eight and a half years after Raymond Weeks staged the inaugural Veterans Day. Following World War II and the Korean War, the 83rd United States Congress, at the request of veterans' service organizations, revised the Act of 1938 by striking out the phrase "Armistice" and introducing the word "Veterans." With the passage of this Act on June 1, 1954, November 11 became a day to honor all American military veterans.

In 1954, Congressman Rees earned the first National Veterans Award for his work in creating Veterans Day a federal holiday. Though the holiday is still commemorated on November 11, it was shifted to the fourth Monday of October in 1971 as part of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. Finally, on September 20, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed legislation restoring Veterans Day to its former date of November 11 beginning in 1978.

The federal government observes the holiday on a Friday if it falls on a Saturday, or a Monday if it falls on a Sunday. The US Office of Personnel Management determines federal government shutdowns. Non-government enterprises can close or remain open as they see fit, regardless of federal, state, or local government operation rulings.

The week of November 11 through November 17, 2001, was designated as National Veterans Awareness Week by United States Senate Resolution 143, which was passed on August 4, 2001. The resolution called for initiatives to educate elementary and high school students about veterans' accomplishments and sacrifices.

3. Veterans Day Activities

Hire a veteran

Veterans encounter employment challenges such as a lack of preparedness for civilian professions and incorrect expectations about the type of work and compensation they might expect when they return home. However, many people who leave the military have led troops into the conflict, frequently on several deployments, and as a result, they make excellent leaders and employees.

Go for a run

Do a sponsored run for an organization like Houses for Troops, which builds homes for injured veterans. They specialize in fundraising assistance so that you may focus on running the race and earning as much money as possible to help veterans.

Offer freebies for veterans

Whether you own or work for a company, honoring veterans for their service by offering free products on Veterans Day is a terrific way to show your support. What can your company do today to thank a veteran, whether it's tax preparation or simply a cup of coffee?

4. Veterans Day Quotes

"Valor is stability, not of legs and arms, but courage and the soul." -- Michel de Montaigne

"Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys. Look on them as your beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death!" --Sun Tzu

"Without heroes, we are all plain people, and don't know how far we can go." -- Bernard Malamud

 "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with lots of 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 the nations." -- Woodrow Wilson

 "To ensure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose." -- Dwight D. Eisenhower

 "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

"War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always evil, never good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other's children." -- Jimmy Carter

"On this Veterans Day, let us remember the service of our veterans, and let us renew our national promise to fulfill our sacred obligations to our veterans and their families who have sacrificed so much so that we can live free." -- Dan Lipinski

"My heroes are those who risk their lives every day to protect our world and make it a better place--police, firefighters, and members of our armed forces." -- Sidney Sheldon

"We remember those who were called upon to give all a person can give, and we remember those who were prepared to make that sacrifice if it were demanded of them in the line of duty, though it never was. Most of all, we remember the devotion and gallantry with which all of them ennobled their nation as they became champions of a noble cause." -- Ronald Reagan

"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here." -- Abraham Lincoln

"Better than honor and glory, and History's iron pen, Was the thought of duty done and the love of his fellow men." -- Richard Watson Gilder

 "We will not tire, We will not falter, We will not fail." -- George W. Bush

"Our veterans accepted the responsibility to defend America and uphold our values when duty called."--Bill Shuster"

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