On November 11th of each year we celebrate Veterans Day, a day dedicated to honoring our veterans. Not to be confused with Memorial Day (a day for remembering and honoring military members who died while in service to our country), Veterans Day is a day in which we thank and honor ALL men and women, present or past, living or dead, for their service in the United States military, whether during times of war or times of peace.
While deceased military members are also honored on Veterans Day, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs “Veterans Day is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served — not only those who died — have sacrificed and done their duty.”
A Brief History of Veterans Day
Veterans Day, originally designated as Armistice Day, was established on November 11, 1918 by President Woodrow Wilson to commemorate the end of fighting in World War I. In his proclamation, President Wilson said: “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 for 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 nations….”
In an Act approved on May 13, 1938, the federal government officially established the 11th of November each year as a legal holiday to be celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.” While initially a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, following World War II on June 1, 1954, the word “Armistice” was replaced by the word “Veterans” and November 11th became a day to honor ALL American veterans of all wars.
On October 8th, 1938, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first “Veterans Day Proclamation,” stating in part: “I, Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States of America, do hereby call upon all our citizens to observe Thursday, November 11th, 1954, as Veterans Day. On that day let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain. … In order to ensure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans’ organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose.”
Ways to Honor Veterans
Every year a national ceremony for Veterans Day is held at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. The ceremony begins precisely at 11:00 a.m. with a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns and continues inside the Memorial Amphitheater with a parade of colors by veterans organizations and remarks from dignitaries.
The Tomb of the Unknowns was dedicated at Arlington Cemetery on November 11, 1921 during an Armistice Day ceremony presided over by President Warren G. Harding. Two days before, an unknown American soldier, who had fallen somewhere on a World War I battlefield, arrived in Washington D.C. from a military cemetery in France. During the Armistice Day ceremony, the soldier was buried with highest honors, the tombstone bearing the inscription “Here Rests in Honored Glory an American Soldier Known but to God.” This World War I unknown soldier has since been joined by other unknown fallen soldiers from America’s other major 20th century wars.
In addition to the National Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington Cemetery, local communities hold their own celebrations, parades, and honor ceremonies. There are also many ways individuals can honor veterans. For some ideas, please see this list of 45 things one can do to honor a Veteran that was developed by the Behavioral Health staff at the Spokane VA Medical Center. More ideas can also be found here.
Poems to Commemorate Veterans Day
This Veterans Day we encourage you to remember the intent behind Veterans Day: to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for our common good. We have collected and reprinted below a number of poems which we believe speak to the heart of Veterans Day. We hope you take the time to read, reflect on, and share these poems with others.
Frazer Consultants extends our deepest gratitude to all the Veterans who have so courageously, honorably, and selflessly served our country and protected our freedoms. Your sacrifices are/were not made in vain and we sincerely thank you.
IN YOUR HONOR
Unselfishly, you left your fathers and your mothers,
You left behind your sisters and your brothers.
Leaving your beloved children and wives,
You put on hold, your dreams-your lives.
On foreign soil, you found yourself planted
To fight for those whose freedom you granted.
Without your sacrifice, their cause would be lost
But you carried onward, no matter the cost.
Many horrors you had endured and seen.
Many faces had haunted your dreams.
You cheered as your enemies littered the ground;
You cried as your brothers fell all around.
When it was over, you all came back home,
Some were left with memories to face all alone;
Some found themselves in the company of friends
As their crosses cast shadows across the land.
Those who survived were forever scarred
Emotionally, physically, permanently marred.
Those who did not now sleep eternally
‘Neath the ground they had given their lives to keep free.
With a hand upon my heart, I feel The pride and respect; my reverence is revealed
In the tears that now stream down my upturned face
As our flag waves above you, in her glory and grace.
Freedom was the gift that you unselfishly gave
Pain and death was the price that you ultimately paid.
Every day, I give my utmost admiration
To those who had fought to defend our nation.
SIDE BY SIDE
Women have fought
Women have died
Women have served
and served with pride
From the revolutionary war
and yet still today
Women stand side by side
with men in uniform and say
That they will support and defend
the constitution of the United States
Proudly, in the air on land and sea
They continue to fight for our freedom
wherever that may be
Their dedication to duty
reflected, their selfless service was so true
from private to general
these women did and still do
So be thankful for these women
past and serving still today
be thankful that they gave so much
and include them when you pray
~Jennifer L. Best, SPC US Army~
The soldier fought his battle silently.
Not his the strife that stays for set of sun;
It seemed this warfare never might be done;
Through glaring day and blinding night fought he.
There came no hand to help, no eye to see;
No herald’s voice proclaimed the fight begun;
No trumpet, when the bitter field was won,
Sounded abroad the soldier’s victory.
As if the struggle had been light, he went,
Gladly, life’s common road a little space;
Nor any knew how his heart’s blood was spent;
Yet there were some who after testified
They saw a glory upon his face;
And all men praised the soldier when he died.
A NATION’S STRENGTH
Not gold, but only man can make
A people great and strong;
Men who, for truth and honor’s sake,
Stand fast and suffer long.
Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly —
They build a nation’s pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.
Want military-themed stationery to honor veterans and their families this Veterans Day? Tribute Center has several military themes to choose from, and it’s free to download. Give us a call at 866-372-9372 to learn more about Tribute Center’s other capabilities.
I enjoyed the article and poems. So many people do not know the difference in Memorial and Veterans Day. The article explained it very good! Thanks