As a disabled veteran myself, I am honored to be among the thousands of men and women who’ve served our country during wartime and peace time. Veterans Day should be one of our most important holidays because it recognizes the sacrifice of a few on behalf of the many.
Veterans Day doesn’t have a long history. It originated as a remembrance of the end of World War I on November 11, 1919, the war’s first anniversary. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. Unlike Memorial Day, Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans—living or dead—but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.
Until 1954, it was known as Armistice Day in honor of the cessation of hostilities in World War I. It was a famous veteran, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who changed that. In 1968, the Uniform Holidays Bill was passed by Congress, which moved the celebration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. The law went into effect in 1971, but in 1975 President Gerald Ford returned Veterans Day to November 11, due to the important historical significance of the date.
Here are some quick facts about our veterans and Veterans Day:
- 16.1 million living veterans served during at least one war.
- 5.2 million veterans served in peacetime.
- 2 million veterans are women.
- 7 million veterans served during the Vietnam War.
- 5.5 million veterans served during the Persian Gulf War.
- Of the 16 million Americans who served during World War II, about 558,000 are still alive.
- 2 million veterans served during the Korean War.
- 6 million veterans served in peacetime.
- As of 2014, 2.9 million veterans received compensation for service-connected disabilities.
- As of 2014, 3 states have more than 1 million veterans among their population: California (1.8 million), Florida (1.6 million) and Texas (1.7 million).
- The VA health care system had 54 hospitals in 1930, since then it has expanded to include 171 medical centers; more than 350 outpatient, community, and outreach clinics; 126 nursing home care units; and 35 live-in care facilities for injured or disabled vets.
Happy Veterans Day. If you see a vet today, thank him or her for their service.