This Is a parade celebrating Veterans Day in New York City “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

For some people, November 11 is just an ordinary day. However, for those with military families this day, Veterans Day,  is very important since it celebrates their loved ones’ sacrifice for America. Not to be mistaken with another American holiday, Memorial Day,  Veterans Day is a national holiday celebrated to pay tribute to all servicemen and women who fought in American wars and honor all military veterans. 

Veterans Day was first sanctioned as a holiday by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919. President Wison announced that November 11 would become the first commemoration of Armistice Day to celebrate the ending of World War 1.

According to President Wilson, this holiday would include parades, public gatherings, and a brief pause from business and school activities at 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month. In 1954 after urging efforts by veterans service organizations, the 83rd United States Congress changed the word armistice to veteran in favor of all military veterans. This change was agreed upon and signed by the 34th United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The change of name has remained today.

This federal holiday is honored as a historical and patriotic day in most American States. It honors those who fought in the service of our country. In 1921, an unknown World War I American soldier was buried in Arlington National Cemetery” This ceremony  has been the focal point for Americans and veterans.” There are many traditions that take place at Arlington. One tradition is the placing of a flag on every grave with more than 220,000 flags placed on that day. This is known as the “Flags In” and it has taken place since 1948. 

Every year the sitting President or a designee visits Arlington Cemetery on Veterans Day to pay tribute to our fallen Soldiers. They lay a wreath and visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Some of the most prominent figures who have paid their respect to historical celebration include President Harry S Truman who stated “Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. 

They have earned our undying gratitude.” Also, President Ronald Regan said “Let us reflect on the great achievements of those whose sacrifices preserved our freedom and our way of life. With pride and gratitude, let us recall their heroic accomplishments and thank them for their unselfish devotion to duty. President Barack Obama stated “In the face of impossible odds, people who love this country can change it.

Veterans Day is not only celebrated in the United States.  There are a few other countries that partake in commemorating the day by having their own celebrations. Their holidays have assigned different names and celebrations. For example, in Canada Veterans Day is called Remembrance Day and begins with a special mass, playing a reading of “Ode of Remembrance”. The reading is followed by two minutes of silence. 

In France, it is called Armistice Day going back to the original name for the holiday. In the United Kingdom, it is called Remembrance Day as well.  Although the holiday has a different name in the various countries they all share the same origin and objective as the United States and that is honoring those who fought in service for their country. Similarly to the United States, both Canada and France also pay their respect to the tomb of the unknown soldier.

While paying respect to those who have fought in service for our country this holiday is also a day to celebrate with family. During this holiday many military families celebrate by eating together and watching the festivities on the television. For me, since several of my family members served in the military, during Veterans Day we honor them with a small token of our appreciation. There are many restaurants that have free meals or special deals for veterans and often we go out and eat and take advantage of the deals.

This Veterans Day, take the time to celebrate the many sacrifices of our military service men and women. Enjoy the day with a relaxing meal, go to a festival, or see a parade. However you spend it, please don’t forget to thank a Veteran.

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