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Each November, individuals across the United States gather to remember and honor the brave men and women who devoted their lives to maintaining the freedoms U.S. residents continue to enjoy. Veterans Day is celebrated on Nov. 11 and pays tribute to all American veterans – including the living and deceased – but especially thanks the living veterans who served honorably during war or peacetime, according to History.com.
Veterans Day originally was known as Armistice Day, which was established to commemorate the end of World War I. In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially changed the name of the holiday to Veterans Day in an effort to recognize all veterans.
That name change is just one of many interesting facts about Veterans Day.
•Nov. 11, 1918, was largely considered the end of the “war to end all wars,” even though the Treaty of Versailles, which officially ended World War I, was signed roughly seven months later on June 28, 1919.
•While Veterans Day is an American holiday, Canada, Great Britain, Australia and France also honor the veterans of World War I and World War II on or near Nov. 11. Canada celebrates Remembrance Day, while Britain observes Remembrance Sunday each year on the second Sunday of November.
•Data from the Department of Veterans Affairs says there are around 19 million U.S. veterans as of 2021.
•Arlington National Cemetery outside of Washington, D.C., holds an annual memorial service on both Memorial Day and Veterans Day. That cemetery is home to the graves of more than 400,000 people, most of whom served in the military.
•Gulf War-era veterans now account for the largest percentage of all U.S. veterans, surpassing the number of Vietnam War-era veterans by almost 2 million, according to the VA.
•Memorial Day is a time to remember those who died in battle or from wounds suffered in battle. However, Veterans Day honors all of the people who served their country, including both living and deceased veterans.
•The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates women make up approximately 10% of the veteran population. By 2025, that number is expected to climb to 12%.
•In 2016, President Barack Obama signed the Veterans Day Moment of Silence Act. At 3:11 p.m. (Atlantic Standard Time) on Veterans Day, a moment of silence is observed and continues for 120 seconds.
•The last living American WWI veteran died in 2011. His name was Frank Buckles.
•In 2021, 37% of veterans were age 70 and older, according to Pew Research. An additional 36% of veterans were between the ages of 50 and 69.
•The U.S. Census Bureau indicates the percentage of the American population with military experience is on the decline. In 2018, about 7% of U.S. adults were veterans, down from 18% in 1980.