Every year, students get to take a day off in honor of Veterans Day. However, it’s hard to say how many take the time to learn about why the day is celebrated.
In 1918, during the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year, a temporary ceasefire was declared between the Allied Forces and Germany in World War I. A year later, President Woodrow Wilson declared Nov. 11 to be Armistice Day, a day meant to be a celebration of the end of the war and a tribute to the lives that were lost.
In 1938, the day became a legal holiday, and in 1954, it’s name was changed to Veteran’s Day.
However, Nov. 11 isn’t just recognized as a day of celebration in the United States. Countries around the world host celebrations and ceremonies to commemorate the end of the great war.
In Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom, it is called Remembrance Day, while France and Belgium still refer to it as Armistice Day.
In many countries, red poppies are sold to raise money for veterans. The practice began with the mention of the flower in the poem “In Flander’s Fields,” by John McCrae and the proceeds go toward veterans.
The Royal British Legion distributes about 40 million wearable poppies between October and Nov. 11 and splits the celebration into two days. On the second Sunday in November, the U.K. celebrates Remembrance Day, which honors those who died in service. On the 11th, the country also celebrates Armistice Day, which includes a two-minute moment of silence at 11 a.m.
To any big history buffs, facts like these may be common knowledge. To others, they may seem like pointless trivia facts.
But history isn’t something that should be glossed over or forgotten just because students get a day off from school. Whether you agree with what was done in the past or not, history has brought us all to where we are now.
Take the time to learn about Veterans Day, both in the U.S. and around the world, and find out what the day means to you.
Do you think about someone you lost to war? Do you think about strangers who were lost to war? Do you think about what they were fighting for?
Whatever answer you come to, it should be one that’s informed and personal. Just because someone else thinks of Veterans Day in one way, doesn’t mean your view has to be exactly the same.
Learn about the day, make your own choices and recognize the occasion how you see fit. If that means going through some old history books, attending a ceremony or speech or just going about your day normally, it’s all up to you.
In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!
Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields