Veterans Day is held in the United States and over 120 other countries around the world, but what is its significance, how did it come into existence, and how do other countries recognize this important day?
Veterans Day originated as ‘Armistice Day’ on November 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and November 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. Unlike Memorial Day, Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans—living or dead—but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during wartime or peacetime.
The date is significant as it reflects the time the guns of the Western Front fell silent after more than four years of continuous warfare and the Armistice ending the 1st World War was subsequently signed in Versailles, France…the 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month, (1918).
The difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day:
Memorial Day honors service members who died in service to their country or as a result of injuries incurred during battle. Deceased veterans are also remembered on Veterans Day but the day is set aside to thank and honor living veterans who served honorably in the military – in wartime or peacetime.
How ‘Veterans Day’ is commemorated in other countries:
In the United Kingdom, ‘Armistice Day,’ now called Remembrance Day, is commemorated formally. Some 45 million paper poppies are produced, sold, and worn around the world to raise money for war veterans by a charity called the Royal British Legion. The poppy was chosen as it was one of the first flowers to grow again on the battlefields of World War I.
In New Zealand and Australia, observance ceremonies take place, but the day is not a public holiday. In Canada and South Africa, Remembrance Day is also recognized. In Poland, National Independence Day is a public holiday celebrated on 11 November to commemorate the anniversary of the restoration of Poland’s sovereignty as the Second Polish Republic in 1918. ‘Armistice Day’ remains the name of the holiday in France and Belgium, and it has been a statutory holiday in Serbia since 2012. In Italy, the end of World War I is commemorated on
4 November, the day of the Armistice of Villa Giusti.
In Germany, they have The National Day of Mourning established in 1922.
It was initially dedicated to the victims of World War I. Today, it is an occasion not only to mourn the dead but also to illustrate the tragedy of war and speak out for peace. In Japan, every August 6, “A-Bomb Day,” the city of Hiroshima holds the Peace Memorial Ceremony to console the victims of the atomic bombs and to pray for the realization of lasting world peace.
All told, some 120 countries recognize ‘Veterans Day,’ ‘Armistice Day,’
or ‘Remembrance Sunday.’