Veterans Day, November 11, 2015
Many Americans mistakenly believe that Veterans Day is the day America sets aside to honor American military personnel who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained from combat. That’s not quite true. Memorial Day is the day set aside to honor America’s war dead.
Veterans Day, on the other hand, honors ALL American Veterans, both living and dead. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for dedicated and loyal service to their country. November 11 of each year is the day that we ensure veterans know that we deeply appreciate the sacrifices they have made in the lives to keep our country free.
Veterans Day National Ceremony
At exactly 11 a.m., each November 11th, a color guard, made up of members from each of the military branches, renders honors to America’s war dead during a heart-moving ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery.
The President or his representative places a wreath at the Tomb and a bugler sounds Taps. The balance of the ceremony, including a “Parade of Flags” by numerous veterans service organizations, takes place inside the Memorial Amphitheater, adjacent to the Tomb.
In addition to planning and coordinating the National Veterans Day Ceremony, the Veterans Day National Committee supports a number of Veterans Day Regional Sites. These sites conduct Veterans Day celebrations that provide excellent examples for other communities to follow.
Veterans Day Observance
Veterans Day is always observed on November 11, regardless of the day of the week on which it falls. The Veterans Day National Ceremony is always held on Veterans Day itself, even if the holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday. However, like all other federal holidays, when it falls on a non-workday — Saturday or Sunday — the federal government employees take the day off on Monday (if the holiday falls on Sunday) or Friday (if the holiday falls on Saturday).
Federal government holiday observance (for federal employees, including military) is established by federal law. 5 U.S.C. 6103 establishes the following public holidays for Federal employees: New Year’s Day, Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., Washington’s Birthday (President’s Day), Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.
This federal law does not apply to state and local governments. They are free to determine local government closings (including school closings) locally. As such, there is no legal requirement that schools close of Veterans Day, and many do not. However, most schools hold Veterans Day activities on Veterans Day and throughout the week of the holiday to honor American veterans.
Veterans Day Around the World
Many other countries honor their veterans on November 11th of each year. However, the name of the holiday and the types of ceremonies differ from the Veterans Day activities in the United States.
Canada, Australia, and Great Britain refer to their holidays as “Remembrance Day.” Canada and Australia observe the day on November 11, and Great Britain conducts their ceremonies on the Sunday nearest to November 11th.
In Canada, the observance of “Remembrance Day” is actually quite similar to the United States, in that the day is set aside to honor all of Canada’s veterans, both living and dead. One notable difference is that many Canadians wear a red poppy flower on November 11 to honor their war dead, while the “red poppy” tradition is observed in the United States on Memorial Day.
In Australia, “Remembrance Day” is very much like America’s Memorial Day, in that it’s considered a day to honor Australian veterans who died in war.
In Great Britain, the day is commemorated by church services and parades of ex-service members in Whitehall, a wide ceremonial avenue leading from London’s Parliament Square to Trafalgar Square. Wreaths of poppies are left at the Cenotaph, a war memorial in Whitehall, which was built after the First World War. At the Cenotaph and elsewhere in the country, a two-minute silence is observed at 11 a.m., to honor those who lost their lives in wars.
Have You Hugged Your Veteran Today?
One of the most personal and meaningful Veterans Day activities for people is to send notes or cards to hospitalized veterans or those living in veterans homes. Or, better yet, visit a veteran in a local veteran’s hospital or veteran’s home. The best way to have a “happy Veterans Day” is to do something special to make a veteran happy.
THIS YEAR COMMERATES THE 52TH ANNIVERSAY OF THE
These veterans were not honored when they returned but fought bravely for our country. Let’s Honor them now!
Sgt. Allan Kaufman, USAF, 49th Tactical Air Command
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