November 11. Do you know what it’s all about? Do you know who we honor every year on that date?
November 11 is not just another day off from work. It’s Veterans Day in the U.S. and Remembrance Day in Canada. The day we choose to celebrate all those who serve and served in our armed forces. Although you might not see fireworks or lights on November 11, you might just catch a parade in your neighborhood. So let us give you a bit of background on where and how this national holiday originated:
It was almost 100 years ago that the U.S. first celebrated what would be known as Veterans Day, when World War I finally came to an end. A ceasefire was declared on the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. For many years after, November 11 was known as Armistice Day to celebrate peace and the end of war.
In the U.S., the first Veterans Day parade was held in 1947 in Birmingham, Alabama to honor the country’s military veterans. Less than a decade later, Congress officially changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day to celebrate the monumental sacrifices made by a record number of U.S. military who went into battle during World War II.
Since then, Veterans Day honors all members of the U.S. Armed Forces, thanking them for their service.
Every year, at 11 am on November 11 in Washington, D.C., a special ceremony is held at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Ceremony. The President lays a wreath and a color guard honors those who have fallen in battle.
Throughout the U.S., many mark the day by attending parades or local events. If you are looking for ways to honor veterans and thank them for their service, there are several military charities that directly benefit former military, such as the Wounded Warrior Project and the USO.
In Canada, Remembrance Day events are similar to those of Veterans Day in the U.S. On November 11, official national ceremonies are held at the National War Memorial in Ottawa and there are local celebrations in cities throughout the country. Wreaths are placed at the base of the memorials and many people also put poppies on the tombs of soldiers who died in battle (poppies are the traditional flower of remembrance for this particular day).
Canadians also observe one or two minutes of silence at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, as that marks the time when the armistice became effective.
This Veteran’s Day remember the exceptional sacrifice your military men and women made to help protect your country. And remember, too, that it’s not all about fireworks.
- Our Heroes, Our Parade: http://nationalveteransday.org/resources/
- Obama at Arlington: http://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/gallery/Default.aspx?ID=cd30611c-6158-4684-b10a-87aa2e5100df
- Military Drills: http://www.defense.gov/PhotoEssays/PhotoEssays.aspx#