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Is Veterans Day a national holiday?

November 11 commemorates both a singular moment in history, the end of World War I, and the brave men and women who served the nation in the Armed Forces.

French President Emmanuel Macron and French WWII veteran of the Commando Kieffer Leon Gautier leave a ceremony in tribute to the 177 French members of the "Commando Kieffer" Fusiliers Marins commando unit who took part in the Normandy landings.

The US has eleven federal holidays spread throughout the year to commemorate elements of our national heritage, be they people or singular moments. Veterans Day, celebrated 11 November, commemorates both the brave Americans who have served their country throughout history and the end of World War I.

11 November was originally was set aside to commemorate Armistice Day in 1919, one year after the German forces surrendered bringing to a conclusion World War I. Eventually the day would be dedicated to Veterans, focusing on those who are still among us to show our gratitude for the sacrifice they and their families have made while they served in the US Armed Forces, while still showing respect for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

How is Veterans Day celebrated?

On 11 November 1918, “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” hostilities in World War I came to an end. A year later President Woodrow Wilson would make the first proclamation for Armistice Day. In 1921, an unknown soldier was buried in Arlington National Cemetery and his tomb became a focal point of reverence for America’s veterans.

A Veterans Day national memorial ceremony is held every year at Arlington National Cemetery, where over 400,000 people - most of whom served in the armed forces - are buried. The service, which begins at 11 am ET, includes the laying of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a monument dedicated to members of the US military whose remains have not been identified.

Currently three unknown soldiers lie in rest at the Tomb of the Unknown, the original unknown soldier from World War I, and one each from World War II and the Korean War.

How to honor veterans that are among us

“While Veterans Day is primarily a tribute to America’s living veterans, and should be observed more as a celebration than as a somber remembrance, it is always appropriate to include a moment of respect for those who gave their lives for their country,” according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

The VA provides ideas for activities communities around the country can celebrate Veterans Day showing their appreciation of the service given to the nation by veterans. They recommend that schools and communities have veterans organizations and other patriotic groups participate to enhance any activities.

Activities for Veterans Day

  • Veterans Day Ceremony
  • Flag-Raising Ceremony with Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag and Singing of the National Anthem
  • Musical Programs dedicated to veterans
  • Poster Contest with veterans theme
  • School Newspaper articles about faculty that served or local veteran celebrations
  • Library Activities create a veteran themed reading list
  • Classroom Activities based on Veterans Day themes

Where is Veterans Day celebrated?

Every state and the District of Colombia observes Veterans Day. As with most holidays in the US, observance is generally followed by the public sector, schools and government services, but some businesses and banks remain open despite it being a federal and state holiday.