On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the First World War, then known as "the Great War."*
Commemorated as Armistice Day beginning the following year, November 11th became a legal federal holiday in the United States in 1938.*
In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars.*
In the United States, an official wreath-laying ceremony is held each Veterans Day at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery, while parades and other celebrations are held in states around the country.*
Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans—living or dead—but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.*
In 2008, the number of military veterans in the United States was 23.2 million. 9.2 million of them were 65 and older and, at the other end of the age spectrum, 1.9 million were younger than 35.*
Take a moment today to think about all the men and women who have served to protect our country and ensure its continued strengths and freedoms, whether during peacetime or wars, from its inception to the present day. The numbers are almost unimaginable. We should all do something, anything, to honor them. Fly your American flag. Shake a hand. Buy a poppy. Send a letter to a soldier. Thank personally any friends or family members who served or are serving now. Donate to a veteran support organization. At the very least, sit with your family and talk about all of the things we may take for granted that are ours as a result of the sacrifices of our nation's veterans. There are so many to remember, and none should be forgotten.
Images are vintage official photos of various military units and posts, most dating from the mid-20th century, from my husband's collection. They hang in his office and remind us every day to be grateful.
*Veterans Day history and facts found at http://www.history.com/