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Each November, millions of people recognize the service and sacrifice of military veterans on Veterans Day. Initially commemorated as Armistice Day but renamed Veterans Day in the United States in 1954, the holiday is a federal holiday throughout the country.
The first Armistice Day was observed in 1919. Despite that lengthy history, the general public may still have questions about Veterans Day.
•When is Veterans Day observed? The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs notes that Veterans Day is always observed officially on Nov. 11, regardless of which day of the week that happens to be. In 2023, Veterans Day is Saturday, Nov. 11. Because Veterans Day falls on a Saturday in 2023, the federal observation date is Friday, Nov. 10.
•Why is Nov. 11 so significant? Nov. 11 is a significant day in world history because it marks the signing of the armistice between the Allies of World War I and Germany at 5:45 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918. Though the formal peace treaty, the Treaty of Versailles, was not signed until 1919 – and hostilities between the sides continued for hours after the armistice was signed – the day is still viewed as the end of World War I.
•What distinguishes Veterans Day from Memorial Day? The VA notes that Veterans Day honors all those individuals who served honorably in the miliary during both wartime and peacetime. Memorial Day is a day to honor and remember military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who lost their lives in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle.
•What is the significance of red poppies? Red poppies are ubiquitous on Memorial Day, but they’re also visible on Veterans Day. Though it’s not taboo to wear red poppies on Veterans Day, it’s a tradition that aligns more with Memorial Day. That’s because the poppies are typically worn to honor fallen military personnel. A 1915 poem written by a Canadian lieutenant colonel named John McCrae referred to the fields of poppies growing around the graves of World War I soldiers in Flanders.
•Do other countries honor their military veterans? Many countries across the globe honor their military veterans, and many do so on Nov. 11, as well. For example, Canadians and Australians observe Remembrance Day in honor of their nation’s respective veterans on Nov. 11. Great Britain observes Remembrance Day on the Sunday nearest to Nov. 11.
Veterans Day is a day to honor and commemorate the brave men and women who have honorably served in the U.S. military during wartime and peacetime.