Artwork by Elonzo Coleman
Veterans Day is a holiday that is near and dear to my heart because my Dad is an army veteran! He spent three years away from our family, serving in two different wars, and he is a hero, at least to me! He was one of the lucky war heroes because he made it home three times! This holiday is stuck right in the middle of our traditional big three; Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, so it is often overlooked! It has an interesting history that most of us don’t truly know!
My Dad, Lt. Col. Herbert M. Smith, Jr. pictured in 1977
The History of Veterans Day:
- Fighting in World War 1 ended at 11 am on Nov. 11th in 1918, even though the Treaty of Versailles was not officially signed until June 28, 1919.
- On Nov. 19th, 1919, President Wilson proclaimed the first celebration of Armistice Day or Victory Day, as a day to show gratitude for the victory of WW1.
- In 1926 Congress officially recognized the end of World War 1.
- On November 11th, 1938, Armistice Day became a legal holiday.
- In 1954 President Eisenhower declared that Armistice Day would be commemorated as Veterans Day, a day to honor veterans.
- In 1968, legislation was made that changed Veterans Day to the 4th Monday in October. This day was not the day of the Armistice and Veteran groups urged that November 11th be set aside to honor all of those that had served in the armed forces, not just from WW1.
- In 1971, President Nixon, signed a bill making Veterans Day a federal holiday on the 2nd Monday of November.
- In 1978, Congress Declared that Veterans Day would be always on November 11th! It remains here to this day!
Interesting Facts about Veterans Day:
- The original holiday was celebrated with parades, public meetings and a short work break at 11 am. Since the holiday was also known as Victory Day, people held their fingers in a V, which stood for victory! It is now considered the peace sign!
- People celebrate this holiday in different ways. Many visit the Vietnam Memorial or The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Many people place flowers on the graves of lost loved ones. Some places celebrate a moment of silence at 11 am in the morning, when "Taps" is played.
Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, in Arlington, Virginia
Photo Credit: My nephew, Ryan Storz
- Many Veterans organizations sell red poppies to be worn on clothing as a symbol of the blood that was shed on the beautiful wild poppy fields in Europe, where many soldiers died. Some graves are decorated with poppies too.
- Many churches allow a special time for veterans to be honored on the Sunday closest to this holiday each year. Veterans from each war are asked to stand for the wars that they fought, and receive a standing ovation in return! This is a tearful time for many, including me!
Veterans Day and Food:
Many restaurants want to thank veterans by giving discounts or a free meal, as a thanks for service to their country, which is awesome! You will need a military ID card and should call ahead to verify participation and times of service!
Here is a list of current Restaurants that plan to honor veterans with a free meal or deal in 2012:
- Applebee’s - Free Meal on Sunday, Nov. 11th
- Chili’s - Free Meal on Sunday, Nov. 11th
- Golden Corral - Free meal on Monday, Nov. 12th.
- Famous Dave’s - Free Meal on Sunday, Nov. 11th.
- Hooters - Free Meal on Sunday, Nov. 11th.
- Krispy Kreme - Free doughnut on Sunday, Nov. 11th.
- McCormick and Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants - Free Lunch or Dinner, Sunday Nov. 11th.
- Olive Garden - Free entree on Sunday, Nov. 11th
- Outback Steakhouse - A week of a free bloomin onion and a coke on Sunday, Nov. 11th - Monday, Nov. 12th.
- Red Lobster - Free Appetizer on Sunday, Nov. 11th
- Sizzler - Free lunch until 4pm on Monday, Nov. 12th
- Subway - In honor of Veterans Day, SUBWAY® will donate $111,112 to the Wounded Warrior Project ‘s economic empowerment program.
- Texas Roadhouse - Free lunch on Sunday, Nov 11th.
- T.G.I. Fridays - Free lunch on Monday, Nov. 12th.
Many local restaurants will also honor veterans on this day, so be sure and call and check out your favorites!
A special thank you to my Dad for his dedicated military career, and willingness to defend and serve his country! A special thank you to all of our veterans and their families that stand behind them! Please reach out to them and include them in your family, include their kids as your own, and show them hospitality. They often move around so much and making friends is very difficult. Being friendly is such a small way to show your thanks, but it can be a huge blessing to you, and literally change their lives! Learn their stories and teach your kids to love our great country!
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