15 facts to know about Veterans Day, from the celebrations to the correct spelling

Apostrophe or no apostrophe? How long should one observe the holiday? We've got the answers

By Joy Saha

Staff Writer

Published November 11, 2022 1:00PM (EST)

A tomb guard of the 3rd US Infantry Regiment, known as "The Old Guard," salutes before a centennial ceremony for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, in Arlington National Cemetery, on Veterans Day in Arlington, Virginia, on November 11, 2021. (ALEX BRANDON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
A tomb guard of the 3rd US Infantry Regiment, known as "The Old Guard," salutes before a centennial ceremony for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, in Arlington National Cemetery, on Veterans Day in Arlington, Virginia, on November 11, 2021. (ALEX BRANDON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Veterans Day is an annual federal holiday that honors and celebrates all military veterans of the United States Armed Forces.

Originally called Armistice Day, the holiday was first recognized in 1919 when the armistice, also known as a formal truce, officially ended the World War I feuds between the Allied Powers and Germany. The name was formally changed to "Veterans Day" in 1954 to encompass veterans in all conflicts.

Veterans Day is celebrated nationwide via public parades, gatherings and ceremonies. Notable celebrations include the annual National Veterans Day Observance at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, the Veterans Day Ceremony & Wreath Presentation at The Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., and the Veterans Day Observance at The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, also located in Washington, D.C.

In anticipation of the holiday, here are 15 facts to know about Veterans Day:

Veterans Day does NOT have an apostrophe
It's not spelled "Veteran's Day" or "Veterans' Day." The holiday honors all veterans — it does not belong to veterans nor does it involve just one veteran. Thus, it's spelled "Veterans Day," sans the apostrophe.
Veterans Day is NOT Memorial Day
Veterans Day commemorates military personnel — both living and deceased — who have honorably served their country. Memorial Day, on the other hand, honors those who have fought and died while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is also observed on the last Monday of May.
Veterans Day was first known as Armistice Day

Although World War I officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919, the fighting stopped on Nov. 11, 1918, when the Allies and Germany signed an armistice on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. That date, known as Armistice Day, was recognized by Congress as the end of "the war to end all wars" in 1926, and in 1938, it became a federal holiday that specifically honored veterans of World War I.  


Following World War II and the Korean War, the holiday was renamed Veterans Day on June 1, 1954 to celebrate American veterans of all wars.

Veterans Day initially had a different date of celebration

In 1968, Congress signed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which noted that several federal holidays — including Veterans Day — will be celebrated only on Monday. Officials hoped the initiative would encourage travel over the long weekend and, in turn, boost the economy.


Under this new bill, Veterans Day was first celebrated on Oct. 25, 1971 — the fourth Monday of the month. However, many states were unhappy with the new change and continued celebrating the holiday on Nov. 11. Finally, on Sept. 20, 1975, President Gerald Ford signed Public Law 94-97, which redesignated Nov. 11 of each year as Veterans Day starting in 1978.

There's a Women's Veterans Day, which is held on June 12
The date marks the anniversary of the Women's Armed Services Integration Act, which was signed into law by President Harry S. Truman on June 12, 1948. Women's Veterans Day is not a nationally recognized holiday, but some states — including California, Hawaii, New Jersey and New York — still observe it.
There's also a National Atomic Veterans Day
On July 15, 1983, President Ronald Reagan designated July 16, 1983, as National Atomic Veterans Day. The one-time commemoration specifically honored "American military service members who participated in nuclear tests between 1945 and 1962, served with United States military forces in or around Hiroshima and Nagasaki through mid-1946 or were held as prisoners of war in or near Hiroshima or Nagasaki," according to a 2021 statement from the White House.
National Atomic Veterans Day was brought back on July 16, 2021
President Joe Biden revived the day just last year, saying in a statement, "I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities that honor our Nation's Atomic Veterans whose brave service and sacrifice played an important role in the defense of our Nation." Then in December of that year, Biden signed legislation into law to recognize atomic veterans as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022.
Service dogs also get their own Veterans Day
March 13 is National K9 Veterans Day, which celebrates the service and sacrifices of American military and working dogs. The day also marks the official birthday of the Army's War Dog Program, also known as the K-9 Corps, which was established in 1942.
There's a recommended time for observation
Legally, at 2:11 p.m. ET, two minutes of observation is recommended.
The Arlington National Cemetery holds an annual memorial service
The cemetery, located in Arlington, Virginia, is home to the graves of over 400,000 individuals, most of whom served in the military. Every year, The Arlington National Cemetery holds a memorial service on Veterans Day at 11 a.m., which is when the World War I armistice was signed.
As part of the commemoration, the U.S. Army Military District of Washington conducts a Presidential Armed Forces Full Honor wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. An observance program, hosted by the Department of Veterans Affairs, takes place afterwards in the cemetery's memorial amphitheater. The service is both free and open to the public.
A Veterans Day Parade is also held annually in New York City
Produced by the United War Veterans Council (UWVC), the parade was first held in 1919. Today, the annual event takes place on Fifth Avenue and is both the largest and oldest Veterans Day parade in the country.
The Smithsonian opened the National Native American Veterans Memorial
The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., opened the National Native American Veterans Memorial on Veterans Day in 2020. The monument "is the first national landmark in Washington, D.C., to focus on the contributions of American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians who have served in the military."
Veterans Day legislation attempts to pay back Black service members
On Nov. 11, 2021, a group of Democratic lawmakers introduced new legislation that would "give surviving spouses and all living descendants of Black WWII veterans housing and educational benefits that were initially denied to their families," per The Hill. The legislation would also extend the VA Loan Guaranty Program and the GI Bill education assistance to "Black WWII veterans and their descendants who were alive at the time of the bill's passage." The GI Bill was originally passed in 1944 to help veterans pay for education and housing following their return from service. The law, however, was also racially discriminatory and prevented many Black veterans from receiving their full — and rightful — benefits.
Thousands of Veterans are still alive today
According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 167,284 of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II are alive in 2022.
Veterans Day is observed in other countries too
In the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and France, Nov. 11 is also a day of observance for the veterans of World Wars I and II. The second Sunday of November is known as Remembrance Sunday in the U.K. And in Canada and Australia, Nov. 11 is observed as Remembrance Day. In Britain and the Commonwealth countries and countries in Europe, "it is common to observe two minutes of silence at 11:00 AM on November 11," per Britannica.

By Joy Saha

Joy Saha is a staff writer at Salon. She writes about food news and trends and their intersection with culture. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.


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Arlington National Cemetery Armistice Holiday List Veterans Day World War I