Veterans Day Honors Those Who Serve
Veterans Day Holiday History
Formerly Armistice Day, Veterans day is a holiday observed annually in the United States in honor of all those, living and dead, who served with the U.S. armed forces in wartime.
Some states observe the holiday on November 11 and other on the fourth Monday in October. Armistice Day, the forerunner of Veterans Day, was proclaimed in 1919 to commemorate the termination (at 11 am on November 11, 1918) of World War I. On the first anniversary of the truce, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation eulogizing fallen Allied soldiers and referring to November 11 as Armistice Day. It became a holiday in the U.S., France, Great Britain and Canada.
The holiday acquired its present name and broadened significance in the U.S. in 1954. In Canada it is known as Remembrance Day, and in Great Britain, as Remembrance Sunday.
Veterans Day Festivities And Facts
- ►Among the nation's veterans, approximately 6 million served in World War II, 4 million served in the Korean War, 8 million during the Vietnamera and 3 million in Persian Gulf War.
- ►There are 26.4 million veterans in the United States; this is a ratio of about 1-in-8 U.S. civilians 18 and over, or 13 percent.
- ►Thirty-seven percent of civilian veterans are over the age of 65.
- ►Seventeen percent of Alaskan civilians 18 and over are veterans, the highest rate in the country. Other states where 15 percent or more of the adult, civilian population are veterans includ Arizona, Florida, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.
Other Country's Traditions & Origins For Days Similar to Veterans Day
The date was a national holiday in many of the former allied nations to allow people to commemorate those members of the armed forces who were killed during war. After World War II, it was changed to Veterans Day in the United States and to Remembrance Day in the British Commonwealth of Nations. Armistice Day is an official holiday in France. It is also an official holiday in Belgium, known also as the day of peace in the Flanders Fields.
In many parts of the world, people take two minutes of silence at 11:00 in the morning as a sign of respect for the roughly eight million who died in the war, as suggested by Edward George Honey in a letter to a British newspaper though Wellesley Tudor Pole established two ceremonial periods of remembrance based on events in 1917.Beginning in 1939 , the two-minute silence was moved to the Sunday nearest the 11th, in order not to interfere with wartime production should the 11th fall on a weekday. This was stopped at some point and many people observe silences on the actual 11th.
In Belgium, this tradition lasted until 2003, when a group successfully lobbied the international community to move the official moment of remembrance back to the 12th.
Veterans Day Activities For Kids and Family
- Have children write letters to veterans thanking them for serving our country
Stamps for Heroes
Have students create a postage stamp to honor a war hero. Students can draw or paste an image of the hero on the stamp. Students can then write important facts and dates about the hero on the back.
- Interview veterans. If possible interview veterans and their families. You may want to take pictures of yourself with this special individual. Be sure to thank them and, perhaps, make a batch of brownies or some other homemade delicacy as an expression of gratefulness for their willingness to protect our country. Be sure to write up your story and attach your pictures to it and send a special copy to the veteran that took such time in this project!
Wall of Peace Lesson
- paper and pen/pencil
- colored pencils or crayons
This lesson can be used to commemorate Memorial Day, Veterans Day, or the anniversary of September 11. In the lesson, students will choose a question(s) to respond in writing. The written paragraph will be attached to a symbolic "brick." Students' bricks will be used to commemorate the day and build a "Wall of Peace."
Then write the following questions on a chalk/whiteboard or chart:
What do you feel is the cornerstone of our country?
In what ways can we honor our veterans?
How do we show respect for our country?
In what ways can we, as individuals, on a daily basis help keep the peace?
What is tolerance?
How does tolerance promote peace?
Veterans have shown their loyalty to our country. How can we show ours?
Why is it important to keep honoring our veterans?
Ask students to write a paragraph in response to one of those questions. Have students/peers edit the paragraphs for publication. Once students have edited their paragraphs for grammar, punctuation, and spelling, have them write or type their paragraphs on a paper "brick." (Or they might write/type on white paper, then cut out and mount their paragraph on a red brick.) Build a Wall of Peace on a classroom bulletin board by having students read aloud their paragraphs one at a time; then have them place their bricks on the bulletin board. Leave space between bricks to represent the mortar that holds the bricks in place. The bricks in this classroom Wall of Peace represent important characteristics: peace, honor, respect, tolerance, and loyalty.
Veterans Day Stories
Warren Tsuneishi wasborn on the Fourth of July in California, Warren Tsuneishi was the son of Japanese immigrants. After Japanese forces bombed Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entered World War II, his family was evacuated to Heart Mountain, a Japanese internment facility in Wyoming. But Tsuneishi craved freedom and the chance to serve his country, in spite of his family's confinement. He volunteered for the Military Intelligence Service Language School and served in the Pacific, translating captured documents that gave U.S. forces a big advantage in securing the Philippines and Okinawa.
At the age of seven, Robert Powell was taken for a ride up into the clouds by a barnstorming pilot, and he was hooked on flying from then on. In wartime Europe, he flew escort missions for bombers, but his favorite job was the most dangerous one: strafing ground positions. He was in his element on D-Day and during the first weeks of the invasion, helping to distract the enemy and provide cover for Allied troops. Since his retirement, Powell has been documenting the history of his squadron in writing and on video.
When Roger Dean Ingvalson was shot down over North Vietnam on May 28, 1968, he was already a veteran pilot, with nearly twenty years in the Air Force and over 100 missions flown in Vietnam. He spent his 40th birthday in captivity and wound up at the notorious Hanoi Hilton. Ingvalson kept his mind busy by studying insects and by communicating with his fellow prisoners through special codes. And he kept his North Vietnamese captors at bay by feeding them false information. He attributes his ability to survive five years of deprivation and isolation to his religious faith.
Veterans Day Books, Movies, Poems, Songs
- World War II For Kids: A History with 21 Activities, by Richard Panchyk
- World War II (First Book), by Tom McGowen
- High Flight, by Linda Granfield
For Adults and Teachers:
- The Great Raid, by William B. Breuer
- Memoirs of the Second World War, by Winston Churchill
- A Train: Memoirs of a Tuskegee Airman, by Charles W. Dryden
Veterans Day Memorials
World War II Memorial
- The World War II Memorial honors the 16 million who served in the armed forces of the U.S., the more than 400,000 who died, and all who supported the war effort from home. Symbolic of the defining event of the 20th Century, the memorial is a monument to the spirit, sacrifice, and commitment of the American people. The Second World War is the only 20th Century event commemorated on the National Mall’s central axis.
Korean War Memorial
- From 1950 to 1953, the United States joined with United Nations forces in Korea to take a stand against what was deemed a threat to democratic nations worldwide. At war's end, a million and a half American veterans returned to a peacetime world of families, homes, and jobs - and to a country long reluctant to view the Korean War as something to memorialize. But to the men and women who served, the Korean War could never be a forgotten war.
The passing of more than four decades has brought a new perspective to the war and its aftermath. The time has come, in the eyes of the Nation, to set aside a place of remembrance for the people who served in this hard-fought war half a world away. The Korean War Veterans Memorial honors those Americans who answered the call, those who worked and fought under the trying of circumstances, and those who gave their lives for the cause of freedom.
- Deliberately setting aside the controversies of the war, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial honors the men and women who served when their Nation called upon them. The designer, Maya Lin, felt that “the politics had eclipsed the veterans, their service and their lives.” She kept the design elegantly simple to “allow everyone to respond and remember.”
Iwo Jima Memorial
- The Marine Corps War Memorial stands as a symbol of this grateful Nation's esteem for the honored dead of the U.S. Marine Corps. While the statue depicts one of the most famous incidents of World War II, the memorial is dedicated to all Marines who have given their lives in the defense of the United States since 1775.