Veterans Day: Thank a Vet, lend a hand

Two veterans standing side-by-side

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 11: Thank a veteran in your neighborhood, give gratitude at work or even tweet a message—the options are endless today, on Veterans Day!

Honoring men and women who have served our country, in the shared hope that we might actually end wars someday, is a noble idea that dates to the origins of this Nov. 11 observance at the close of World War I. The world’s “Great War” officially ceased on June 28, 1919, but the fighting had actually stopped seven months earlier, on Nov. 11—and thus, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11, 1919 as the first Armistice Day. Nearly two decades later, November 11th was declared a legal holiday in the United States.

By 1954, the world had survived WWII and Korea, and a WWII vet began raising support for a more general Veterans Day. Among other arguments made in this campaign: WWII had required even more soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen than WWI. At the urging of citizens, November 11th officially became Veterans Day in 1954.


Our nation’s millions of veterans need help for a wide range of lingering issues in their lives, so be sure to check on regional efforts to find out how you can help. Some noted peace activists within religious groups now are urging a greater awareness of the needs of veterans’ families, too—nationwide.

A whopping 44 percent of men and women who serve in the U.S. Military are residents of rural areas, according to a recent White House Report—even though rural residents overall only account for 17 percent of the country’s population—and several organizations are stepping up to help veterans in these areas, where unemployment is usually high. Experts assert that many veterans gravitate toward the country not only because of the therapeutic solace it provides, but also because many desire to care for others—in the form of growing food.

2017 VETERANS DAY FREEBIES & DISCOUNTS: Many restaurants and retailers offer special prices for veterans on Veterans Day. Check out for a full listing restaurants, retailers and more offering Veterans Day freebies and discounts for 2017.

Veterans Day: Honor those who served (with resources and more)

Womens war memorial Washington DC

WHO ARE OUR VETERANS? This close-up photo from the Vietnam Women’s Memorial in Washington DC reminds us that an ever-growing portion of our 22 million American veterans are women. The population of veterans also is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse. CLICK ON THIS PHOTO to read a 5-part OurValues series by sociologist Dr. Wayne Baker exploring American veterans’ lives.

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 11: Salute the brave men and women whose sacrifices have kept America free and fighting for justice, on the anniversary of Armistice Day—better known nationally as Veterans Day.

Around the world, November 11 is remembered as the day an armistice—a temporary cessation of hostilities—went into effect between the Allied nations and Germany, unofficially ending World War I, in 1918. Europe, Britain and the Commonwealth countries commonly observe two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. each November 11; Canada pays tribute with Remembrance Day; the United States marks Veterans Day; and Britain keeps the second Sunday of November, with Remembrance Sunday.

Each year on Veterans Day, Americans rally behind their veterans, showing thanks with processions, ceremonies, television specials and words of gratitude. In the United States, the Veterans Day National Ceremony is held at Arlington National Cemetery each year, and several communities hold parades and other activities to honor their local veterans on November 11. Several restaurants and businesses in the U.S. offer free or discounted meals and products to veterans on Veterans Day. (Find a list of restaurants and stores offering discounts, here.)

Care to read more?


Following the armistice that halted World War I (“the war to end all wars’”) in 1918, it took just one year for President Woodrow Wilson to declare the first Armistice Day. Proclaimed in November of 1919, Armistice Day was soon elevated to a legal holiday. By 1954, following World War II and the Korean conflict, the word “Armistice” was replaced with “Veterans,” to honor more than just the veterans of World War I. (Learn more from Wikipedia and

Today, Veterans Day honors all veterans, and is observed as a federal holiday on November 11.


RESOURCES: Teachers can incorporate lessons related to Veterans Day with help from the 2014 Teachers Guide, available from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Students can also learn about Take a Vet to School Day, Veterans Day history and more.

TV SPECIAL This Veterans Day, Scripps Networks Interactive will be showcasing “A Hero’s Welcome,” the first program scheduled to appear on all of the media giant’s channels: the Cooking Channel, DIY Network, Food Network, Great American Country, HGTV and the Travel Channel. (Watch the trailer here.) The 60-minute special will feature veterans and, of course, Scripps Networks celebrities. (The New York Times reported.) The special will run once on each channel between 9 p.m. ET and 11 p.m. ET on November 11.

FOR FAITH GROUPS: The Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes that faith groups can be fundamental in easing the burdens and injuries experienced by many veterans. The VA shares resources with faith groups. Learn more about President Obama’s Office for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and reach out to the veterans in your community.

HEADSTONES: Interested in which religious/belief emblems are available for government headstones and markers? Check out the list, here.

Veterans Day: Medal of Honor stamps released; events commence worldwide

Elderly veteran wearing Pearl Harbor hat salutes

Army Air Corps Veteran Louis Roffman salutes during the national anthem. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael Holzworth, courtesy of Fotopedia

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 11: Thank a veteran today!

WANT IDEAS? Check out a week-long series of great ideas to aid our veterans, coming from sociologist Dr. Wayne Baker in the OurValues project.

ARE YOU A PEACE ACTIVIST? So is the Rev. Rod Reinhart in the Chicago area. Rod wrote this column about why even peace activists should care about veterans and their families.

Millions plan to join today’s commemorations of those who sacrificed their lives for country on Veterans Day (also known as Armistice Day and Remembrance Day outside of the United States). Historically, it was on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month—at 11 a.m. on November 11—that the armistice went into effect that ceased hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany. (Wikipedia has details.) This event, regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars,” was first officially observed in the United States in 1919; the first British commemoration was held the same year at Buckingham Palace.

Following World War II in the United States, veteran Raymond Weeks suggested that “Armistice Day” be changed to “Veterans Day,” to honor all who had served his or her country following World War I: Today, Veterans Day events are held across the United States while Armistice Day celebrations continue across the globe. (Learn more from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Parades, memorial services, speeches and ceremonies extend gratitude and recognition to veterans worldwide. From a concert in Glasgow to evening services in Australia, millions will gather to say “thank you.”

The United States Postal Service will honor recipients of the Medal of Honor from World War II this year with a unique series of stamps, which will list the medal’s 464 recipients in every book. The stamps are scheduled for released Nov. 11, 2013 at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.


Marines march down an empty street in NYC holding flags during parade

Photo by NYCMarines, courtesy of Flickr

In November of 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the commemoration of Armistice Day. Seven years later, Congress deemed Armistice Day a legal holiday; in 1954, that legal holiday was renamed “Veterans Day.” Though the Uniform Holiday Bill briefly moved Veterans Day to October, it returned to Nov. 11 in 1978.

As of 2012, Armistice Day became an official holiday in Serbia; it also remains an official holiday in France and Belgium, though commemorations are held in Australia, Scotland and even Brazil. The day is termed “Remembrance Day” in countries of the British Commonwealth of Nations. In many countries, two moments of silence are observed at 11 a.m. local time.


Looking for the goings-on of this year’s holiday? This interactive online map allows users to locate Veterans Day events around the world. Veterans Day ceremonies at VA National Cemeteries are listed here. Teachers can access information on Take a Vet to School Day. Veterans with proper ID can find out where to find a free meal, everywhere from Applebee’s to Olive Garden to TGI Friday’s. This list details retail outlets, motels and auto services that offer discounts to veterans.