I was born and raised in the United States. Texas to be exact. My entire life has been surrounded by red, white, blue, stars, and stripes. I was educated about U.S. history. I was taught how to respect and handle the American flag. And I was taught to be grateful for the quality of life and opportunities I was granted because of the great country in which I was born.
Most importantly, I was taught to be respectful and appreciative of those who fought for our freedom and opportunities. Both of my uncles fought in Vietnam and came home safely to raise successful non-military families.
Veterans Day, celebrated every November 11 in the United States, was a part of my life growing up and highly celebrated, but I was very fortunate that our family was never directly affected by the difficulties and tragedies many families face when they have loved ones who are serving or have served in the military. If this makes me seem naïve, so be it. It is my reality, or at least it was.
I‘ve learned so much more about what Veterans Day means to our service members, our nation’s veterans, and their families.
Fast forward to the present
When my son was awarded a college scholarship from the United States Air Force (USAF), I was the proudest mom on earth. Upon graduation from college, he will enter the Air Force and is on track for flight school. In an instant, this reality changed how I think about Veterans Day and our armed forces.
The thought of handing over my baby boy to the USAF brings extreme anxiety, not to mention the vision I have of him of stepping into a fighter jet. It fills my eyes with tears and my mind with fear. My empathy and emotion have become very real for any parent who has watched a child enter the military.
My gratitude for every solider and veteran and their families has increased exponentially. I will never again take for granted what these individuals, vets, and their families sacrifice for the life I live.
I commend each and every one of you, soldiers and families alike.
THANK YOU, VETERANS!
Some interesting facts about Veterans Day
From the U.S. Department of Defense…
- A lot of people think it’s “Veteran’s Day” or “Veterans’ Day,” but they’re wrong. The holiday is not a day that “belongs” to one veteran or multiple veterans, which is what an apostrophe implies. It’s a day for honoring all veterans, so no apostrophe is needed.
- It was originally called Armistice Day, commemorating the end of World War I. But then World War II and the Korean War happened, so on June 1, 1954, at the urging of veterans service organizations, Congress amended the commemoration by changing the word “armistice” to “veterans” so the day would honor American veterans of all wars.
- World War I was a multinational effort, so it makes sense that our 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 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.
As recently shared in Reader’s Digest…
- The first celebration referred to as Veterans Day was held in Birmingham, Alabama, on Nov. 11, 1947.
- In 1926, Congress passed a resolution to make Veterans Day an annual occurrence, but it didn’t become a federal holiday until 1938.
- Veterans Day honors all American troops who served honorably – regardless of whether they did so during war or peacetime.
- The 624-acre Arlington National Cemetery is home to the final resting place of more than 400,000 military service members and their families. As such, it holds an observance on Veterans Day every year at 11 a.m., the time the World War I armistice was signed.
- According to data from the Department of Veterans Affairs, there were around 19 million U.S. veterans as of 2021.
There is so much more to know!
I hope you will take a few moments to learn more about the origins of Veterans Day and the many historical facts about this important federal holiday from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C.
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