The Historical Significance and Contemporary Value
If you or a loved one has ever served in our nation’s military, you know that November 11 is far more than just a day off of work or school. Veterans Day, the nationally recognized holiday often confused with Memorial Day, pays tribute to all who have served in America’s Armed Forces.
Although Memorial Day also commemorates the sacrifices of our country’s service members, it is a much older holiday established in 1868 and celebrated on the last Monday in May. It pays special tribute to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country, commemorating military members who have died while serving. Veteran’s Day has a different significance.
The Short History of Veterans Day
Originally called “Armistice Day,” Veterans Day was intended to serve as a time that would remind nations to always strive for peaceful relationships. Over the decades, the date took on new significance as more worldwide conflicts erupted into war. The twists and turns in the holiday’s history include:
November 11, 1918 – The Allied Nations and Germany agree to put an end to World War I with an armistice on “the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.”
June 28, 1919 – WWI officially ends with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in France.
November 1919 – President Woodrow Wilson proclaims November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. Celebrations include parades and public gatherings as well as a brief cessation of business activities beginning at 11:00 a.m.
May 13, 1938 – An Act is approved in the United States that designates November 11 an annual legal holiday known as “Armistice Day.” At this time, the day is intended to honor World War I veterans.
June 1, 1954 – In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, the 83rd Congress amends the Act of 1938 and replaces the word “Armistice” with “Veterans.” This allows November 11 to honor all veterans. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs the legislation.
October 8, 1954 – President Eisenhower issues the first “Veterans Day Proclamation”
June 28, 1968 – The Uniforms Holiday Bill assigns the fourth Monday of October as Veterans Day to make it one of four three-day weekends for federal employees. Many states disapprove and continue to celebrate the holiday on November 11.
October 25, 1971 – The first Veterans Day under the new law is observed, but not without widespread resistance and confusion.
September 20, 1975 – President Gerald R. Ford signs Public Law 94-97 to return the annual observance of Veterans Day to November 11, beginning in 1978.
If November 11 falls on a Saturday or Sunday, we celebrate the holiday on the previous Friday or Monday. This policy honors the intentions of the Uniforms Holiday Bill while also respecting Americans who feel strongly about the holiday’s significance.
The Veterans Day National Ceremony commences precisely at 11:00 a.m. every November 11th at Arlington National Cemetery. A wreath is laid at the Tomb of the Unknowns, and celebrations continue inside the Memorial Amphitheater to thank and honor all who have served in the United States Armed Forces.
Veterans Day holds great historical and patriotic value for many in our country, and by marking the date annually, we reinforce our national values of duty, honor, selflessness, civic responsibility, and passion for our country.
Quotes for Veterans Day
In honor of Veteran’s Day, here are 25 quotes:
- We make war that we may live in peace. -Aristotle
- Nobody ever drowned in sweat. -US Marines
- Those who cannot bravely face danger are the slaves of their attackers. -Aristotle
- More powerful than the will to win is the courage to begin. -Unknown
- Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him. -Dwight D. Eisenhower
- Many become brave when brought to bay. -Norwegian proverb
- Courage is fear holding on a minute longer. -George S. Patton
- It is easy to take liberty for granted, when you have never had it taken from you. -Unknown
- Either war is obsolete or men are. -Buckminster Fuller
- There never was a good war or a bad peace. -Benjamin Franklin
- Unless one says goodbye to what one loves, and unless one travels to completely new territories, one can expect merely a long wearing away of oneself. -Jean Dubuffet
- This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave. -Elmer Davis
- Freedom is never free. -Author Unknown
- Valor is stability, not of legs and arms, but of courage and the soul. -Michel de Montaigne
- The more we sweat in peace the less we bleed in war. -Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit
- In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot. -Mark Twain
- Peace is not only better than war, but infinitely more arduous. -George Bernard Shaw
- It is not only the living who are killed in war. -Isaac Asimov
- Life is 10 percent what you make it and 90 percent how you take it. -Irving Berlin
- History teaches that war begins when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap. -Ronald Reagan
- Soldiers generally win battles; generals get credit for them. -Napoleon Bonaparte
- “Where there are too many policemen, there is no liberty. Where there are too many soldiers, there is no peace. Where there are too many lawyers, there is no justice.” -Lyn Yutang
- Moral courage is the most valuable and usually the most absent characteristic in men. -George Patton
- I think there is one higher office than president and I would call that patriot. -Gary Hart
- Have the courage to act instead of react. -Earlene Larson Jenks
A Marine Veteran’s Story: Here’s What I Learned From My Suicide Attempt
When 9/11 happened, I joined the Marines. The Marines gave me a sense of being and purpose.
When you’re in the Marines, you are trained from the first day that death is creeping in. It’s always creeping in. It has to be on top of your mind. That I might die in Iraq was more of a reality than the reality of making it back home. I was quite comfortable with dying in war.
But I did survive war. I survived it twice. After IEDs and close encounters that created endless anxiety and hyper-vigilance, I made it home and was completely unprepared. I felt guilty that I was alive, with nothing to my name but an old Volkswagen Passat and a couch to sleep on back at my parents’ house. At the time, I wished I had died in Iraq. It would have been a noble way to go out, to be remembered and honored. Deep down, I was envious of my friends and others that didn’t make it home. They didn’t have to plan for the future, while I was staring at the ceiling on my mom’s couch wondering what the hell was I going to do.
I went to college, but the secret guilt of still being alive stayed with me throughout college. Nothing in college felt remotely close to the military, to the purpose of the war. I started to drink heavily my freshman year and struggled with alcohol for years after that. Pot became a nice addition with alcohol. When I was drinking and smoking, I didn’t have to deal with the world. I didn’t have to think about life. Couple those two with some pills and I had quite the cocktail for numbing my existence.
One day in December, I decided that life was too hard to bear. In the moment of my suicide attempt, I thought of the times that were tough and the times that brought me joy. I realized during that dark hour that this was not how I wanted things to end. This was not how I wanted to be remembered. Making it home from war was a blessing in disguise that I didn’t see until the moment I nearly ended my life, eight years ago.
This was my dark secret until now. I want to share this with you because life is complicated, hard, and often a constant struggle. But that doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. There are too many people that care in the world. I learned that the hard way. I cannot thank those people who helped me enough. They helped because they cared and wanted me to live.
All of the negative feelings almost robbed me of a life worth living. Now I want to take the time I have and use it wisely, to make up for lost time and focus on bettering myself and others’ lives. I care more now than ever, and it’s because I know what it was like to not give anything at all.