In 1918, U.S. soldiers across Europe waited in anticipation as a temporary halt on fighting went into effect. It so poignantly happened – as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs writes – on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. While the signing of the Treaty of Versailles officially ended World War I in June of 1919, the November cessation was what many consider the end of the war.
First called Armistice Day by Woodrow Wilson in 1919, the 11th of November officially became Veterans Day in 1954 to encompass and honor all veterans who served our nation in any war. Each year, at 11:00 a.m., Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC hosts the Veterans Day National Ceremony. It includes laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and a parade of colors by various veterans’ organizations.
While we all can’t be in Washington DC to see this ceremony tomorrow, we can do our part at home to celebrate those who have fought for our freedom. It is especially easy if you, like many Americans, have the day off. Hopefully, we all know the important role each service member plays (or has played) in our safety and freedom, so it isn’t hard to see why there is a day set aside to honor them. They deserve it.
Ways to Honor Others
- Visit a veteran’s hospital or send thank you cards.
- Wear a yellow ribbon to show your support.
- Make a tax-deductible donation to the VFW. Click here to make a donation now.
- If you see an active duty member at a restaurant, pay for his or her meal.
- Participate in your local Veterans Day parade or ceremony.
- Deliver a meal to a homebound veteran.
- Interview a veteran. Most of them have seen things you will never see in your lifetime. Each one has an interesting story to tell.
- Send a card or care package to a soldier overseas. If you do not know anyone in the military, there are currently more than 300 nonprofits that help you send goodies to active duty service members. You can find many of them listed on www.military.com.
Ways to Honor YOU
If you are a veteran, you deserve to enjoy your day! Here are some ways to celebrate your hard work and sacrifice.
- Enjoy a free meal. Many restaurants, including Applebee’s, provide a free meal for vets and active duty military on Veterans Day. Just bring a proof of service.
- Find an old military buddy using one of these reputable sites listed by the National Archives here.
- Attend a Veterans Day parade or rally to see and hear all of the appreciation for all service members, including you.
- Educate others about the importance of the day. Ask a local school if you can come in and share your story.
- Pay it forward. Do something good for another veteran or service member – or even their families.
- Spoil yourself with a spa treatment or new toy. A number of businesses provide discounts to veterans and active duty members on Veterans Day.
- Invite fellow military friends over for a game or party and share stories.