“Thank you for your service.”
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American veterans may hear these words on Saturday, as tributes for former service members roll in in honor of Veterans Day.
Unsure what Veterans Day is? Read on for a look at the holiday and the history behind the occasion.
What is Veterans Day?
“While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military - in wartime or peacetime,” the Department of Veterans Affairs says.
It explains the holiday “is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served - not only those who died - have sacrificed and done their duty.”
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Memorial Day, the VA says, is meant to honor those who have died while serving.
What is the history behind the holiday?
The roots of Veterans Day go back nearly 100 years.
Fighting during WWI stopped on Nov. 11, 1918 due to an armistice between the Germans and the Allies, the VA notes. Nov. 11 was commemorated as Armistice Day by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919, it adds.
A resolution passed by Congress in 1926, according to the federal agency, called for Nov. 11 to be remembered every year “with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations.”
In 1938, Armistice Day was officially made a legal public holiday, the VA says.
Many American soldiers lost their lives during WWII and the Korean War. In the wake of these wars, Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.
In 1968, a bill was passed which called for Veterans Day to be observed on the fourth Monday in October starting in 1971. The change was part of a move to give federal workers several three-day holiday weekends, the Navy History and Heritage Command blog The Sextant says online.
But in 1971, two states observed Veterans Day on Nov. 11 instead, The Sextant says, adding that over time, other states did the same.
President Gerald Ford signed a bill in 1975 which pushed Veterans Day back to Nov. 11, with the changes taking place in 1978.
Ford said in a statement that he felt “restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 will help preserve in the hearts and lives of all Americans the spirit of patriotism, the love of country, and the willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good symbolized by this very special day.”
What else should I know?
Some in the U.S. observe Veterans Day with parades, such as the upcoming one that will take place Saturday in New York City.
There will also be a wreath-laying ceremony on Saturday morning at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va.
Many restaurants and businesses are also offering special promotions for veterans which they can take advantage of.
As Veterans Day falls on a Saturday this year, federal offices will observe the holiday on Friday.