What is the Meaning of Veterans Day and Why Do We Celebrate It?

Submitted by Mark Ammons, RN; Admissions Coordinator/Marketing Director Richard M. Campbell Veterans Nursing Home

Veterans Day is meant to honor the brave men and women, both past and present, who have served in the United States armed forces. The historical significance of the date of Veterans Day, November 11th, came from the ceasefire agreement that formally ended World War I. On this date in 1918, on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, the Allied powers signed a ceasefire agreement with Germany at Rethondes, France. It was at this time that this date was established as Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I hostilities and becoming a day to both celebrate and to commemorate our United States Veterans. The word Armistice was taken from modern Latin ‘arma’ meaning ‘arms’ and ‘stitium’ meaning “stoppage”. While Armistices Day was initially established to recognize the Veterans of World War I, it was not until the year 1938 that Armistice Day was made a federal holiday across the United States. After World War II and the Korean War, Congress felt the need to recognize all of our veterans. In 1954 Armistice Day was replaced with Veterans Day as a means to show appreciation to all of the veterans that have served and continue to serve the United States of America.

While today veterans widely experience support and appreciation, past political climates were not as friendly. Many of those who served in the Vietnam War returned from the harsh conditions only to be shunned and harassed by American citizens who did not support American involvement in the war. This made it difficult for many of the returning veterans to re-acclimate to everyday society. Holidays such as Veterans Day serve as a reminder to the sacrifices made by not only those who return home, but also those who were lost while serving their country. Today, organizations such as the Wounded Warrior Project and others, work to help returning veterans rejoin society while raising awareness for common struggles of veterans, such as PTSD.

Veterans are such a large and important part of every community within the United States; most United States citizens either know or have a loved one who has served, or continues to serve, in the armed forces. In 2016, there were about 20.4 million Veterans and close to 1.5 million active duty Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines in the United States. Every one of those veterans and active duty soldiers have family and friends who know the sacrifice they have given to make this country safe, and it is vital to give them the recognition they deserve for serving our country. Many American citizens see Veterans Day as another day off work without truly realizing why they have the day off work. The sacrifices of those who served, as well as the ultimate sacrifice of those who died in service to our country, is highlighted by our nation’s annual observance of Veterans Day as a reminder to continually appreciate and honor the men and women who put our country first. After all, without our Veterans we wouldn’t enjoy the freedom we often take for granted.