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Feature   Observances

Nation Observes Veterans Day and Salutes the Troops

Nov. 10, 2021 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

November 11 is Veterans Day, a federal holiday that is meant to honor all veterans of the uniformed services who served or are still serving during times of peace as well as war.

Veterans Day has its origins at the end of World War I when at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the fighting ended with the signing of an armistice.

Soldiers celebrate.
Soldier Celebration
U.S. Soldiers celebrate the armistice that ended World War I, Nov. 11, 1918.
Photo By: Army photo
VIRIN: 181111-O-D0439-001

In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first Armistice Day, Nov. 11. The day is also known as Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth of Nations. Wilson's proclamation stated:

"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"

Airmen march during a parade.
Honor Guard March
The Air Force Honor Guard marches in the Veterans Day Parade in New York City, Nov. 11, 2019.
Photo By: Air Force Airman 1st Class Noah Sudolcan
VIRIN: 191111-F-PB738-1339

Congress officially passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words:

"Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and, whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations …."

The resolution also encouraged the display of the U.S. flag on all government buildings and urged appropriate ceremonies.

A congressional act, approved May 13, 1938, made Nov. 11, a federal holiday.

A color guard performs during a parade.
Veterans Salute
Soldiers assigned to the 1st Brigade Combat Team participated in the North East El Paso Veterans Day Parade and Ceremony in El Paso, Texas, Nov. 11, 2017.
Photo By: Army Sgt. Kelsey Miller
VIRIN: 171111-A-TD149-004A
Veterans hold rifles while in formation.
At Attention
Veterans participate in a Veterans Day ceremony at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, Nov. 11, 2016.
Photo By: Air Force Senior Airman Connor J. Marth
VIRIN: 161111-F-MC546-020A

In 1954, Congress — at the urging of veterans' organizations — changed the name to Veterans Day to honor service members who had served in all of the nation's wars.

It should be pointed out that Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day, a federal holiday on the last Monday in May, honors those who have  died while in military service. 

Another military holiday that also occurs in May, Armed Forces Day, observed on the third Saturday in May, honors those currently serving in the U.S. military.

Sailors sing and march during a parade.
Veterans Day Parade
Sailors assigned to Naval Medical Center San Diego, Calif., march and sing in the San Diego Veterans Day Parade, Nov. 11, 2014.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Justin Galvin
VIRIN: 141111-N-OL084-289A

Every Veterans Day, a number of restaurants and retailers offer discounts and special promotions for those who have served or are still serving. Most require proof of service. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, types of veteran identifications include:

  • Defense Department ID cards
  • Veteran Health ID cards
  • Veteran ID cards
  • Veteran's designation on a state-issued driver's licenses or ID cards

Information on how to obtain these ID cards can be found here: https://www.va.gov/records/get-veteran-id-cards/.