Thursday, November 10, 2011

Veterans Day – A Special Occasion for Remembering & Honoring Vets

Veterans Day Quick Facts ©Katrena
Veterans Day, traditionally celebrated in the United States on November 11 at 11:00 a.m., is a special time to remember the veterans who have served the country. Armistice Day was first commemorated by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919 in order to honor veterans of World War I. President Dwight D. Eisenhower changed the name to Veterans Day in 1954 in order to broaden the scope of the special day to honor all American veterans who have served with honor during times of peace and war.

When is Veterans Day Celebrated in the United States?

Veterans Day has traditionally been celebrated on November 11 as a way to commemorate the start of an armistice, or halting of hostilities, between Allied Nations and Germany on November 11, 1918 at 11:00 a.m. Veterans Day was observed on the fourth Monday of October between 1971 and 1977 due to the Uniform Holidays Act. President Gerald Ford changed the official date back to November 11 beginning on 1978 due to the rich significance of that date in American history.

In case you have seen Veterans Day spelled other ways and are wondering which is correct, I decided to choose the spelling offered by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Learn more about Veterans on their FAQ page.

Flags for Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, MIA/POW ©Katrena
What are the Branches of the U.S. Military?

All branches of the United States military are honored at Veterans Day services around the country. The United States has the following military branches:
  • Air Force
  • Army
  • Coast Guard
  • Marine Corps
  • Navy
Each branch has a flag and emblem in addition to America's national flag, also known as the Stars and Stripes, Star Spangled Banner, or sometimes Old Glory. Congress first established an official flag on June 14, 1777, and many parts of the nation celebrate Flag Day each year on June 14.

American Flag and MIA/POW Flags ©Katrena
American Flag Basic Facts

The United States flag has changed over the years with the last change on July 4, 1960 with the addition of a fiftieth star in the union (blue upper left portion) to recognize Hawaii as the fiftieth state. See the VA Kids article The American Flag for more details about the national flag. Find the official flag code and learn more about the proper display of the American flag in Guidelines for Display of the Flag.

The black MIA/POW flag, designed to honor those Missing in Action or Prisoners of War, was first officially flown over the White House in 1982 and to date is the only flag, other than the national flag, to officially be flown over the White House.

Veteran of Three Wars (WWII, Korea, Vietnam) at 2001 Cleveland Christmas Parade ©Katrena
America has been involved in the following wars in recent years:
  • World War I (1917-1918)
  • World War II (1941-1945)
  • Korean War (1950-1953)
  • Vietnam War (1964-1975)
  • Gulf War (1990-1991)
  • War on Terror (2001-Present)
Patriotic Songs in the United States

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs article Military Songs Inspire Troops, Preserve Tradition, each service branch has a song or official tune:
  • Air Force – "The U.S. Air Force"
  • Army – "The Army Goes Rolling Along" also known as "The Caisson Song"
  • Coast Guard – "Semper Peratus" (meaning "always ready")
  • Marines – "Marines' Hymn"
  • Navy – "Anchors Aweigh"
Other popular patriotic songs in the United States include:
  • America
  • America the Beautiful
  • Eternal Father, Strong to Save (also known as the U.S. Navy Hymn)
  • God Bless America
  • God Bless the U.S.A.
  • Stars and Stripes Forever
  • Taps (often played at military funerals and traditionally played on a bugle – this web site offers more details on Taps with some audio and video footage)
  • The Battle Hymn of the Republic
  • The Star Spangled Banner
  • This Land is Your Land
  • You're a Grand Ole Flag
Memorials for Veterans - Program Where Purple Heart was Received Posthumously by Brother ©Katrena
Where are Veterans Day Programs Held?

Many memorials are located throughout the United States in order to honor veterans, and Veterans Day programs are often located near these memorials if possible. Some schools have Veterans Day programs on or near November 11. A local Chamber of Commerce, veterans organization, or town newspaper should be able to identify when and where a Veterans Day program is held in a particular community.

Arlington National Cemetery hosts a Veterans Day service on November 11 every year. This cemetery hosts The Tomb of the Unknowns, previously known as The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Tomb Guard Sentinels guard the area with precision 24 hours a day, seven days a week. See a video of the changing of "The Walk" at The Tomb of the Unknowns.

Thank You to Veterans 
Thank you, veterans, for your service. And thank you to family members of veterans who also gave up more than most of us will ever realize. May we always remember our veterans and their great sacrifice.

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