On November 11th, we pause to honor our veterans and their bravery while in the face of conflict. Here are 10 facts that surround the holiday as well as the veterans themselves.
Veterans Day was once known as Armistice Day. This comes from an armistice between Germany and the Allies that went into effect at the Eleventh hour of the Eleventh Day on the Eleventh Month in 1918. While WWI officially ended on June 28, 1919, the first Armistice was recognized on November 11, 1919.
Veterans Day The primary celebration of Armistice Day was to honor the veterans of World War I. But after World War II, the holiday was officially renamed to honor all Veterans.
US Celebration versus other countries
The majority of other countries that observe Veterans Day honor both those who survived the war as well as those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and never returned from the field of battle. The United States observes living veterans on November 11th and reserves Memorial Day for those who died.
Propaganda There were many companies that served the country by creating and publishing materials to promote the war effort. Among them was Walt Disney Productions, who was sought out by the government due to their popularity in American homes. At one point over 90% of Disney’s employees were involved in creating training and propaganda films for all branches of the military. Throughout the war, the company would produce over 400,000 feet of film which equates to roughly 68 hours of continuous footage.
Shift in Remembrance Veterans Day was not always celebrated on November 11th. For a period of time between 1971 and 1977, it was celebrated on the fourth Monday in October. This change was part of the Uniform Holiday Bill signed in June of 1968. The idea was to create three day weekends for Federal employees with the hopes that it would inspire travel and other recreational activities to boost the economy. When the bill went into effect in 1971, people were confused about when to observe the holiday while others were outraged that the significance of the original date had been cast aside. So in 1975, President Gerald Ford signed public law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479) which restored the observance of Veterans Day to November 11th.
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Four unknown soldiers have been buried in Arlington Cemetery since the Tombs dedication on November 11, 1921. The tomb has become the focal point of ceremonies on Veterans Day. Among the events include a combined color guard representing all branches of the military and the presentation of a wreath upon the grave, usually placed by the president or a high ranking government official. Note: In 1998, the Unknown Soldier of Vietnam was identified through DNA tests as Michael Blassie, a 24-year-old pilot shot down in 1972 on the border of Cambodia.
Veteran Numbers As of 2016, California had the highest number of veteran population (1,624,519) while DC had the lowest (26,346). Delaware ranked #44 of the 50 states with 63,316.
Caring for Veterans The Veterans Affairs health care system consisted of 54 hospitals in 1930. Today, there is roughly 171 medical centers, over 350 outpatient, community and outreach clinics, 126 nursing home care units and 35 live-in facilities for injured or disabled veterans.
Beyond the Field of Battle A 2012 study released by the Department of Veterans Affairs concluded that 22 veterans commit suicide every day (8030 annually). In 2014, California saw a staggering 662 veteran suicides. Some of the triggers for suicide include depression, survivor’s guilt, PTSD, substance abuse and self-blame for mission failures.
Service Related Disabilities Gulf War era veterans had the highest percentage of active duty injuries coming in at 27.2% followed closely by post September 11th veterans who account for 26.7%. Vietnam veterans revealed 20.2% had been listed as disabled. Others include the Korean War (12.2%) and World War II (13.6%).
"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." -- John F. Kennedy