Every November 11th, the country honors and celebrates its veterans with Veterans Day. This is an important day set aside to honor the sacrifices all of our military service members have made in both wartime and peacetime. If you’re wondering how you can get involved in supporting veterans and thanking them for their service, here’s what you need to know.
History of Veterans Day
Veterans Day is celebrated on November 11th every year and is intended for honoring military veterans of the United States Armed Forces. It is separate from Memorial Day in that Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans while Memorial Day celebrates service members who have died in military service.
Veterans Day coincides with other holidays in other countries including Armistice Day and Remembrance Day that mark the end of World War I. In fact, Veterans Day originally started as Armistice Day in the United States as well. However, in 1945, when a World War II veteran named Raymond Weeks had the idea to change Armistice Day to honor all veterans, not just ones who had died in World War I, the celebration of Armistice Day changed. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill into law in 1954 to officially establish Veterans Day as a holiday in the United States.
Briefly, Veterans Day was moved to the fourth Monday of October in 1971 in accordance with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. However, in 1978, it was moved back to November 11th due to public pressure, as November 11th is a date of historical significance for many veterans and Americans.
How to celebrate Veterans Day
1. Attend a celebration
One of the best ways to celebrate Veterans Day is by attending a ceremony or event honoring veterans. Many places organize a Veterans Day parade to give people an opportunity to meet veterans in their community and thank them. You can also attend a flag-raising ceremony or any other type of celebration to learn more about the experiences veterans have had and honor their sacrifices.
2. Thank a veteran
One of the most important parts of Veterans Day is showing appreciation for military service members, so taking the time to thank veterans in your community should be a part of your Veterans Day celebrations. If you don’t know any veterans personally, there’s no need to worry. There are plenty of organizations that can connect you to a veteran or have programs through which you can send thank-you cards or handwritten letters to a veteran. If you have veterans in your workplace, take the time to acknowledge them and show your gratitude through events like a luncheon or volunteer work for a veterans service organization.
3. Put together a care package
If you’re not sure how you can give back, put together a care package and connect with an organization that can send it to veterans or deployed troops overseas. These care packages can come with anything you think veterans or troops would appreciate, including handmade trinkets and greeting cards with encouraging messages. Necessities like sunscreen and socks or light, non-perishable goods are also appreciated by service members.
4. Support veteran-owned businesses
Small businesses are always in need of support and veteran-owned small businesses are no exception. A great way to honor veterans is to become a patron of veteran-owned businesses. Aside from just shopping and buying from veterans, you can also support businesses by sharing their products on social media and leaving positive comments on their posts. After you shop at a store or eat at a restaurant, take the time to leave a review of your experience on a review site.
5. Learn about the importance of Veterans Day
To understand the true value and meaning of Veterans Day, it’s important to educate yourself on the holiday. One of the best ways to honor the sacrifices that veterans have made and make every day is to hear their stories and learn about the importance of their contributions. Take the time to sit down with a veteran and talk with them about their service or do some research online about how the holiday came to be. You’ll come away from your education with a better understanding of why we celebrate Veterans Day and how important it is.
Nonprofits to support
The Relief Foundation for Veterans was created by Frank Abney Jr. to help veterans looking for direction after completing their service. With programs that help veterans find jobs and housing, repair their credit, and more, the Relief Foundation for Veterans aims to assist veterans with their return to life after service and connect them with all the resources they need to be successful.
Swords to Plowshares is a nonprofit based in the Bay Area founded by Vietnam War-era veterans. They are dedicated to supporting homeless, low-income, and at-risk veterans and giving them access to the necessary care and services they need to rebuild their lives once they’ve returned home. Their programs revolve around three key areas: health & wellness, housing support, and financial stability. In serving 3,000 veterans every year, Swords to Plowshares is making a positive difference in the lives of Bay Area veterans and giving them the tools they need to become successful, self-sufficient individuals.
The American Veterans Tribute is another organization dedicated to supporting and empowering veterans. They own and operate a home in Virginia where injured veterans released from the McGuire VA Hospital in Virginia and their families can stay as they undergo rehabilitation. The nonprofit also partners with Lakeside Educational Network in Virginia to provide educational training for employers to better support veterans in the workplace.
Supporting the veteran community is an important part of making the world a better place. By taking the time to give thanks to the veterans in your community for their service or providing assistance and resources for veterans’ transitions back to civilian life, you can make them feel appreciated and supported this Veterans Day!