Veterans Day is an important American holiday that recognizes the service and sacrifices of military veterans. Observed annually in the USA on November 11th, this federal holiday honors all members of the U.S. Armed Forces who have served the country in wars or peacetime.
On Veterans Day 2023, we take time to reflect on the contributions of all US veterans, past and present. Their selfless dedication continues to shape the ideals of freedom and democracy across the world.
In this article, we will discuss the history of Veterans Day. We will also point out the significance of Veterans Day and look into the events of Veterans Day 2023.
- In 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11th as the first Armistice Day, describing it as a chance for celebrations and commemorations, including parades, public gatherings, and a temporary halt to business to mark one year since the end of World War I and give thanks for the arrival of peace.
- In 1938, Congress passed legislation making Armistice Day an official federal holiday in the United States.
- In 1954, Congress approved changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day with strong support from various veterans service organizations. President Dwight Eisenhower signed the bill into law.
- Many restaurants, stores, and other businesses celebrate Veterans Day by offering promotions, discounts, and free meals specifically for veterans and active duty military.
The History Behind Veterans Day
Veterans Day has a long history starting back in 1918. Read about the long history here.
Origins as Armistice Day Marking End of World War I
The modern Veterans Day holiday originated in the Armistice Day celebrations that marked the end of fighting in World War I. By the fall of 1918, over 4 million American soldiers had been mobilized to fight in “the Great War,” as it was known at the time. Over 116,000 American service members made the ultimate sacrifice during WWI combat.
On November 11, 1918, an armistice agreement was signed between the Allied Powers and Germany that effectively ended major hostilities on the Western Front. The Armistice took effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month that year. News of the armistice spread rapidly, unleashing massive spontaneous street celebrations across the Allied nations and even some neutral countries.
A year later, on November 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation commemorating that date as the first Armistice Day. He described it as an opportunity for parades, public gatherings, and a brief suspension of all business activity to mark the anniversary of the Armistice and give gratitude for peace. Armistice Day was thus born out of both somber remembrance for those lost in the war and joyful celebration of the conflict’s long-awaited end.
In the following years, November 11th became an increasingly important date for communities to honor World War I veterans, recognize their sacrifice, and commit to pursuing peaceful means of resolving future conflicts. This set the stage for Armistice Day being formalized as a national legal holiday in the United States.
Armistice Signed Between Allies and Germany
The armistice contained over 30 detailed articles dictating the terms for Germany’s complete surrender. Some key conditions included:
- Immediate evacuation of all German troops from France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Alsace-Lorraine within 15 days
- Surrender of massive amounts of war supplies and transportation equipment
- Allied occupation of the Rhineland region of western Germany
- Immediate release of Allied prisoners of war and interned citizens
- Renunciation of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Russia
- Blockade of Germany to continue until a final peace treaty was signed
The drastic armistice terms reflected the Allies’ intent of preventing Germany from resuming hostilities. Germany accepted because its military situation had become dire under the overwhelming Allied advances.
Evolved into a Federal Holiday Honoring Veterans of All Wars
[Video Credits @ABC10]
The first Armistice Day on November 11, 1919, marked the one-year anniversary of the end of World War I. In the following years, November 11th celebrations commemorated specifically the veterans who had fought in The Great War. However, by the 1930s, it was clear another world war was looming as militarism rose in Europe and Asia.
In 1938, Congress passed legislation making Armistice Day an official federal holiday in the United States. The law stated the day would be “dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day’.”
After World War II and the Korean War, many felt Armistice Day needed to be expanded beyond just honoring World War I veterans. America now had a new generation of veterans who had served and sacrificed. In 1945, World War II veteran Raymond Weeks spearheaded a campaign for “National Veterans Day” to honor all who had worn the uniform.
In 1954, Congress approved changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day with strong support from various veterans service organizations. President Dwight Eisenhower signed the bill into law. Their intent was to expand the holiday’s purpose to honor veterans of all American wars.
Veterans Day thus evolved from a WWI armistice commemoration into a wider federal holiday honoring veterans who served their country in all wars and conflicts. It has endured as a unifying national holiday expressing the nation’s gratitude.
How Veterans Day is Observed
Veterans Day is observed as an official federal holiday in the United States. This means many federal offices, agencies, and institutions are closed for the day, including post offices, public schools, and national parks. Many private companies also give employees the day off or have reduced hours on Veterans Day.
Across the country, it is tradition for communities to hold parades and events honoring veterans on November 11th. Some of the largest parades are held in major cities like New York, Chicago, and Washington DC. These patriotic parades often feature active duty and retired military units, marching bands, ROTC groups, and vintage vehicles.
Veterans Day ceremonies also occur at war memorials, national cemeteries, monuments, and other civic locations. There are usually wreath-laying tributes, flag ceremonies, guest speakers, and musical performances. Politicians and military leaders use Veterans Day as an opportunity to give speeches highlighting veterans’ service and thanking them.
Many restaurants, stores, and other businesses celebrate Veterans Day 2023 by offering promotions, discounts, and free meals specifically for veterans and active duty military. This expresses appreciation and encourages veterans to enjoy themselves on their day.
A National Moment of Remembrance also occurs at 11:00 a.m. local time on Veterans Day 2023. The federal government requests Americans pause for one minute of silence to honor those who have served in the armed forces. Some radio stations and TV networks air a memorial bugle call during the moment of remembrance. In addition, you can also read an article on- 7 Great Gifts To Give This Holiday Season
Veterans Day 2023 Theme
“Service” is the national theme for 2023 that will be incorporated across the Veterans Day 2023 events.
For the 7th year in a row, Langston, Oklahoma, has been designated as a regional site for Veterans Day 2023 events by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. On November 11, 2023, a Veterans Day Observance ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. at the Wm Conrad Veterans Memorial Gardens. If there is bad weather, it will be moved indoors to the Langston University Wesley Foundation Center. After the ceremony, a Fred Gragg Veterans Appreciation Luncheon will take place at the Wesley Foundation Building, featuring Bingo this year.
To conclude the Veterans Appreciation Weekend, on November 12th, New Hope Missionary Baptist Church will host a Veterans Appreciation Worship Service and a Sunday Dinner for veterans and families served by Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. Veterans and the general public are invited to all the events over the weekend that honor veterans. Coffee and pastries will be served prior to the Veterans Day 2023 ceremony.
How to Honor the Living Veterans?
Here are some ways to honor living veterans on Veterans Day 2023:
- Reach out directly – Call, write, or visit veterans you know to express your gratitude. Ask about their service and listen to their stories.
- Send gifts or care packages – Send flowers, snacks, gift cards, or other tokens of appreciation to veterans in your life. For those isolated at home or in facilities, these simple surprises can mean a lot.
- Donate or volunteer – Donate to reputable charities serving veterans, like the Wounded Warrior Project or Team Rubicon. Or volunteer time at a VA hospital, senior center, or veterans home.
- Attend local events – Look for Veterans Day events in your community you can participate in, like parades, meals, or presentations honoring local veterans.
- Share on social media – Post a heartfelt Veterans Day message on social media highlighting someone in your life who served.
- Offer military discounts – If you own or manage a business, offer Veterans Day discounts or promotions to thank those who served.
- Educate youth – Talk to your kids about Veterans Day and teach them about veterans’ sacrifices. Encourage them to create cards or care packages.
- Display American pride – Hang flags, wear patriotic clothing/colors or decorate your home to show your Veterans Day spirit.
- Observe a moment of silence – Pause for reflection at 11 a.m. on Veterans Day 2023 to appreciate living and deceased veterans.
The most meaningful Veterans Day gestures often involve personal connection, outreach, and education. Simple acts of acknowledgment can make veterans feel seen.
The Ongoing Significance of This Holiday
The appreciation and remembrance symbolized by Veterans Day will continue for generations to come. While its meaning has evolved over the decades as different wartime eras pass, the core purpose remains the same – to honor all those who have worn the uniform and defended this nation.
Veterans Day keeps alive our memories of the courageous men and women who have served, especially as their numbers dwindle with time. This November 11th, take a moment to reflect on how we can best show gratitude to our veterans community. Their unwavering patriotism continues to inspire everyday Americans. Additionally, you can also read about- Top 60 Things That You Need to Know about Seasonal Holidays in 2023
Educating Younger Generations
Part of the observance of Veterans Day should involve teaching children and youth about its history and meaning. Have your kids ask their grandparents or other relatives about their military service.
Learn about ancestors who served by looking through old photos and letters together. Schools can organize activities centered around veterans’ contributions to help students understand their sacrifices. The more we educate younger generations, the more we ensure our veterans’ legacies will continue.
Veterans Day in Schools
For schools and students, Veterans Day provides an educational opportunity beyond just a day off. Teachers can cover interdisciplinary lessons about military history, civics, and sociology. Students may interview veterans from prior wars or assist with community Veterans Day programs.
Many schools host Veteran’s Day assemblies with guest speakers from VFW chapters, ROTC programs, or veteran-focused non-profits. Students gain perspective by hearing directly from men and women who served. Veterans can also be invited to classrooms to share their military experiences and connect students with America’s living history.
Veterans Day 2023: Events, Shows, and More
Here are some examples of Veterans Day 2023 events, programs, shows, and other happenings that could be highlighted:
- Annual Veterans Day National Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery – Wreath laying, speeches, and musical tributes with national visibility.
- Veterans Day Parade in New York City – The largest parade in the U.S., with over 25,000 participants watched by hundreds of thousands.
- Veterans Day Concert at the Kennedy Center – Free performance by the National Symphony Orchestra honoring veterans.
- WWII Veterans Reunion in St. Louis – Hundreds of WWII vets plus families and friends gathering to remember shared service.
- Veterans 5K Race in San Diego – Race event with proceeds going to veteran job placement programs.
- Veterans Art Exhibit in Austin – Showcasing creative works by vets from conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam.
- Veterans Day Sales at Retailers – Stores offering discounts to veterans and active duty military members.
- VA Hospital Visits – Volunteers spend time thanking and cheering up veteran patients on Veterans Day.
- High School Marching Band Performances – Musical tributes to veterans by talented student musicians nationwide.
- Veterans Day TV Special on PBS – Moving documentary interviews with Vietnam War veterans and commemorations.
- Veterans Day Cruise – Cruise line offering free one-day trips for veterans with meals and entertainment.
Veterans Day was born out of a promise never to forget those who fought in past wars. Today it represents our collective duty to honor all veterans – past, present, and future. Citizens should participate however they can, whether attending a parade, volunteering at a VA facility, educating youth, or reaching out to thank veterans they know. We can note down 5 takeaways from the Veterans Day 2023.
- Honor All Veterans on the Veterans Day 2023 Who Served
- Mark Your Calendars for Veterans Day 2023 on November 11, 2023
- Teach the Next Generation about the Veterans
- Give Back to Living Veterans
- Share Your Gratitude to all Veterans
Our veterans have earned this recognition through their courage, sacrifice, and dedication. They embody the qualities that make America strong.
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