Honoring our Veterans

Observance

Veterans Day is intended to honor and thank all military personnel who served the United States in all wars, particularly living veterans. It is marked by parades and church services and in many places the AmericanAmerican Flag flag is hung at half – mast. A period of silence lasting two minutes may be held at 11 a.m. Some schools are closed on Veterans Day, while others do not close, but choose to mark the occasion with special assemblies or activities.

Veterans Day is officially observed on November 11. However, if it falls on a week day, many communities hold their celebrations on the weekend closest to this date. This is to enable more people to attend and participate in the events. Federal Government offices are closed on November 11. If Veterans Day falls on a Saturday, they are closed on Friday, November 10.  If Veterans Day falls on a Sunday, as it does this year, the offices are closed on Monday, November 12. State and local governments, schools and non-governmental businesses are not required to close and may decide to remain open or closed

History

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice between Germany and the Allied nations came into effect. On November 11, 1919, Armistice Day was commemorated for the first time. In 1919, American FlagPresident Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the day should be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory. There were plans for parades, public meetings and a brief suspension of business activities at 11am.

In 1926, the United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I and declared that the anniversary of the armistice should be commemorated with prayer and thanksgiving. Congress also requested that the president should “issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.”

An Act was approved on May 13, 1938, which made November 11 in each year a legal holiday, known as Armistice Day. This day was originally intended to honor veterans of World War I. A few years later, World War II required the largest mobilization of service men in the history of the United States. In 1954, the veterans’ service organizations urged Congress to change the word “Armistice” to “Veterans”. CongressAmerican Flag approved this change and on June 1, 1954, November 11 became a day to honor all American veterans, wherever and whenever they had served.

At exactly 11 a.m., each November 11th, a color guard, made up of members from each of the military branches, renders honors to America’s war dead during a heart-moving ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery.

The President or his representative places a wreath at the Tomb and a bugler sounds Taps. The balance of the ceremony, including a “Parade of Flags” by numerous veterans’ service organizations, takes place inside the Memorial Amphitheater, adjacent to the tomb. This truly moving ceremony ensures veterans that we deeply appreciate the sacrifices they have made to keep our country free.

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