Veterans Day honors 22 million Americans willing to fight and die

veterans day ceremony at tomb of unknowns

Veterans Day ceremonies in the U.S. include a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington Cemetery. Image: CC cliff1066/Flickr

Veterans Day is Thursday, Nov. 11, and the nation’s 22 million veterans will be honored in public ceremonies and private remembrances. Nov. 11 will also be celebrated in other countries as Armistice Day, which commemorates the end of World War I on that date in 1919. The U.S. military has become isolated from the rest of society in recent years, and President Obama said Wednesday that observing Veterans Day should strengthen the bond between American citizens and the people who defend them.

History of Veterans Day

Veterans Day was Armistice day until after World War II, when a bill for a national holiday honoring all veterans was signed into law by President Dwight Eisenhower on May 26, 1954. Businesses, government offices and schools closed on Veterans day every year on Nov. 11 until 1971. Then a law called the Uniform Monday Holiday Act moved Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October in the interest of having a three-day weekend. President Gerald Ford intervened in 1978 and Veterans Day was moved back to Nov. 11. Since its return to the original date, fewer businesses have observed the holiday and it’s treated as any other weekday by many local governments and schools.

Veterans Day 2010

On Veterans Day an official wreath-laying ceremony is held at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery. President Obama, in the midst of a diplomatic mission in Asia, will address soldiers at the U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan in Seoul, South Korea. This year Obama will have missed ceremonies at Arlington on both Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Vice President Joe Biden will host a Veterans Day breakfast at the White House and accept the honor of laying the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Facts about U.S. veterans

On Veterans Day 2010, one-third of all living veterans — 7.8 million — are Vietnam War veterans. From the first Gulf War to the present, 5.2 million veterans served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The oldest living veteran in the U.S. is Frank Buckles, who turned 109 on Feb. 1 2010. Buckles is also the last living American veteran of World War I and the second-oldest military veteran in the world.


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