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The American Veteran Posted by on Nov 7, 2019 in American history, Culture, News

Americans celebrate Veterans Day every November 11 as a way of honoring every person who has ever served in the United States Armed Forces. Note that the word Veterans has no apostrophe. Memorial Day, which is celebrated on the last Monday of May, honors those service members who died in combat while serving in the military, but Veterans Day is for all service members.

Image courtesy of Pixabay, CCO

History of the Holiday

Originally, the holiday was celebrated as Armistice Day, commemorating the end of World War I, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. In 1938 the date was officially made a holiday primarily to honor the soldiers who served in what was then called the war to end all wars. Then, of course, came World War II and the Korean Conflict. So, at the behest of veteran organizations, the holiday proclamation was updated in June 1954, removing Armistice from the designation and replacing it with Veterans.

Never content to leave well enough alone, Congress passed the Uniform Holiday Bill in 1968. This law stipulates that certain federal holidays should be celebrated on Mondays, giving families a long weekend to travel and spend a longer time with each other. Veterans Day was included in that law. Great, right?

Wrong.

For some inexplicable reason, Congress mandated that the holiday should fall on the last Monday of October. Now, remember, the holiday was originally created to commemorate the official end of WWI, which everyone knows was November 11, 1918. So, there was more than a little confusion and consternation with the notion that Veterans Day would now be celebrated next to Halloween. In fact, some states simply refused to go along with the plan. This effectively killed the holiday until 1978 when a new bill went into effect, returning Veterans Day to its rightful day and month – November 11.

Canada and Australia honor November 11 as Remembrance Day. For Canada, the day is much like the US holiday, whereas Australians honor their war dead on the date, much as Memorial Day is celebrated in the US. For England, their Remembrance Day is celebrated on the Sunday closest to November 11, with many parades and two minutes of silence in London to honor those who perished in wartime.

Family Sacrifice

More and more, Veterans Day in the US also honors the families of our military servicemen and women. We recognize the sacrifices endured by the children, spouses, partners, and parents of those who must be left behind during deployment when a service member is away. If the loved ones are living on a military base, the family must still cope with regular disruptions and hardships. It’s not an easy life.

Veterans who served in combat situations, and their families, must deal with many well-documented physical and emotional scars. The suicide rate for veterans and active-duty service members is 20 per-day1https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/01/opinion/military-suicides.html. This means that 450,000 have died from suicide in the past 6 years – more than the total military deaths from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Military families also are more likely to have financial difficulties, drug, and alcohol dependency issues, and marriages are likely to suffer. Divorce and separation rates among combat veterans is an estimated 62% higher than among the general public.2https://www.wevorce.com/blog/marriages-another-casualty-of-war/

In addition to the US Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA), notable organizations that help US veterans include Disabled American Veterans (the DAV), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and the Wounded Warrior Project. One of the great services for veterans is the Coalition for Veteran Owned Business, which helps veterans become entrepreneurial leaders. You can find a veteran-owned business for your needs at Veteran Owned Business.com.

And if you are a US veteran, please allow me to thank you and your family for your service and sacrifice on my behalf.

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