Hey all you veterans out there. Happy Veterans Day! It’s a day to honor you, and you deserve it. You willingly chose to serve, and you did a damn good job. You made many sacrifices in order to protect America and on behalf of all patriots, we could not be more grateful. You represent the best that this country has to offer, so today we celebrate you. We also want to recognize and honor all the vets who are no longer with us, and send up a prayer of thanks. By the way, we know its Veterans Day, not Veteran’s Day or Veterans’ Day, because as the United States Department of Veterans Affairs website states, it is not a day that belongs to veterans, it is a day to honor veterans. Also important to note is that Veterans Day is a day to commemorate the service of all veterans, while Memorial Day pays tribute to those who died in U.S. military service.
Let’s dive into a little history of Veterans Day. Major hostilities during World War I ended with an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany, which went into effect at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. The following year, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed that Armistice Day should be celebrated with parades, public meetings, and a two-minute pause of business at 11am. After WWI, our nation had a lot of veterans to thank, and we officially thanked them on November 11, 1921 when Congress declared that day to be a legal federal holiday to honor all those who fought in the Great War. That same date was also the establishment of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. In 1938, a Congressional Act was approved to make November 11th, Armistice Day, an annually recurring national federal holiday dedicated to the cause of world peace as well as a day to honor veterans of WWI. Fast forward to after World War II, when this country had a lot of new veterans. In 1947, WWII vet Raymond Weeks organized a “National Veteran’s Day” celebration, which took place on November 11th and honored all veterans with a parade and other festivities. Fast forward again to 1954, when veterans from the Korean War joined with vets from WWII to urge congress to recognize veterans of all wars as part of the November 11th Armistice Day commemoration. On June 1, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation that officially changed the name of the holiday to Veterans Day, a day to honor all veterans.
It is worth noting that the national focal point on Veterans Day continues to be Arlington National Cemetery. At 11am on November 11th at the memorial amphitheater built around the Tomb of the Unknowns, a combined color guard representing all military services executes Present Arms at the tomb. The nation’s tribute to its veterans is symbolized by the laying of a presidential wreath and the bugler playing Taps. Many Americans across the country pay thanks to veterans by visiting one of the 172 U.S. National Cemeteries, which contains the graves of U.S. military personnel.
Parades are a fun and festive way to celebrate Veterans Day, and there are some good ones all over the country. Many celebrations include military flyovers, motorcycle honor guards, and pancake breakfasts. If you are anywhere near Chicago, we recommend visiting the National Veterans Art Museum to view their collection of more than 20,000 pieces of combat-inspired works of art created by military veterans. Branson, Missouri is another great place to visit on or near Veterans Day, as they host a Military Film Festival. Veterans can celebrate the national day to honor them by enjoying a free meal at many restaurants across the country, so if you are a vet, be sure to get your grub on.
Now that we know why and where we are celebrating, let’s take a look at who we are celebrating. Here are some facts about United States veterans according to the Pew Research Center:
- Gulf War-era veterans now account for the largest share of all U.S. veterans (7.8 million)
- 19 million living veterans served during at least one war as of April 2021
- Of the 16 million Americans who served during World War II, about 240,000 were still alive as of 2021
- 5.9 million veterans served during the Vietnam War
- 933,000 veterans served during the Korean War
- 11% of veterans are women
- As of this year, the top four states with the highest percentage of veterans are Alaska, Wyoming, Montana, Virginia
Being that you are part of the Lucky Shot community, you probably have a veteran in your life to thank on Veterans Day. A great way to do just that is with a little gift that helps you express your appreciation. If you don’t mind, we’d like to suggest a few options. We hope that all the vets out there have a great Veterans Day; thank you for your service!