Veterans Day is a well-known holiday that allows people to pause and honor those who have served in the military. However, there are several misconceptions about Nov. 11 – like how it’s spelled or whom exactly it celebrates.
To clear some of the confusion up, here are the important facts you should know.
To apostrophe or not to apostrophe
If you think it’s “Veteran’s Day” or “Veterans’ Day,” you’re wrong. The holiday is not a day that “belongs” to one veteran or many vets, which is what an apostrophe implies.
It’s a day for honoring all veterans, living or dead — so no apostrophe is required.
Isn’t Veterans Day the same as Memorial Day?
No, it isn’t. Many Americans get the holidays confused which can be a little annoying to all of the living veterans out there.
Memorial Day is a time to remember those who gave their lives for our country, particularly in battle or from wounds they suffered in battle. Veterans Day honors all of those who have served the country in war or peace, although it’s largely intended to thank living veterans for their sacrifices.
What’s in a name?
World War I officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919. However, the fighting stopped about seven months earlier when the Allies and Germany put into effect an armistice on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
For that reason, Nov. 11, 1918, was largely considered the end of “the war to end all wars” and dubbed Armistice Day. In 1926, Congress officially recognized it as the end of the war, and in 1938, it became an official holiday, primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I.
On June 1, 1954, after the Second World War and the Korean War, at the urging of veterans service organizations, Congress amended the commemoration yet again by changing the word “armistice” to “veterans” so the day would honor American veterans of all wars.
For a while, Veterans Day’s date was changed, adding to the confusion.
When exactly is Veterans Day again?
Congress passed the Uniform Holiday Bill in 1968 to ensure that a few federal holidays — Veterans Day included — would be celebrated on a Monday. Officials hoped it would spur travel and other family activities over a long weekend, which would stimulate the economy.
For some inexplicable reason, the bill set Veterans Day commemorations for the fourth Monday of every October.
On Oct. 25, 1971, the first Veterans Day under this new bill was held. There was a lot of confusion about the change, and many states were unhappy, choosing to continue to recognize the day as they previously had — in November.
Within a few years, it became apparent that most U.S. citizens wanted to celebrate Veterans Day on Nov. 11, since it was a matter of historic and patriotic significance. On Sept. 20, 1975, President Gerald Ford signed another law (Public Law 94-97), which returned the annual observance to its original date starting in 1978.
Other countries celebrate it, too, in their own ways
World War I was a multinational effort, so it makes sense that American allies also wanted to celebrate their veterans on Nov. 11. The name of the day and the types of commemorations differ, however.
Canada and Australia both call Nov. 11 “Remembrance Day.” Canada’s observance is pretty similar to our own, except many of its citizens wear red poppy flowers to honor their war dead. In Australia, the day is more akin to our Memorial Day.
Great Britain also calls it “Remembrance Day,” too, but observes it on the Sunday closest to Nov. 11 with parades, services, and two minutes of silence in London to honor those who lost their lives in war.