The History of Veterans Day—And 4 Ways to Celebrate This Year
Here’s how to honor local service members this year.
This year, recognize Veterans Day by learning more about the history of the holiday. From name alone, you likely already know it’s a holiday that honors United States veterans—but there’s a bit more to it than that. Veterans Day is a federal holiday established after World War I as a way to honor past and current military members. It's held each year on November 11, the anniversary of WWI's final day; it replaced the holiday that had been known as Armistice Day.
Traditionally, Veterans Day is observed with local parades, celebrations and other gatherings. The pandemic is likely to change how some observe Veterans Day this year, but there are plenty of ways to safely honor veterans, wherever you are.
When Is Veterans Day?
Veterans Day is observed each year on November 11, the anniversary of the end of World War I. In 2020, Veterans Day falls on a Wednesday.
What Is the Difference Between Veterans Day and Memorial Day?
Veterans Day is commonly mixed up with Memorial Day, which is an American holiday observed in May. While Veterans Day is a celebration of all who are serving or have served in the military, Memorial Day specifically honors troops who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.
How to Celebrate Veterans Day
There are plenty of ways to observe the holiday with your family.
Fly the Flag
One of the easiest ways to show your support for veterans is to hang up your American flag—just be sure you’re displaying it properly. You can also organize a group of community members (with masks and social distancing, of course) to place miniature American flags at cemeteries, war memorials, parks and other public spaces.
Write a Letter Thanking a Veteran
Express your gratitude to local veterans this year by writing thank you cards. Get in contact with your local VA and find out where to send the letters: They may be able to give you specific names so you can address the card directly, or you can write several more generic notes for the VA staff to hand out.
Donate to an Organization That Supports Veterans
If you’re in a position to give, a monetary donation can do a lot to help veterans all over the country. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is currently accepting donations to VA Medical Centers, or you can choose to support a number of other organizations that benefit veterans: The Wounded Warrior Project provides services and medical help to those in need of physical or mental medical help, while Homes for Our Troops builds and donates custom houses to severely injured veterans.
Call the Veterans You Know
If you know a veteran or a military member, consider calling them to express your gratitude.