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Veterans Day is a public holiday held on the anniversary of the end of World War I (November 11) to honor US veterans and victims of all wars. It replaced Armistice Day in 1954.


1. Armistice Day origins
Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919 to commemorate the end of World War I. The day became an annual observance in 1926 and Nov. 11 became a national holiday in 1938.

2. From Armistice Day to Veterans Day
Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day on June 1, 1954 to recognize all veterans and not just those who served in World War I. From 1971 and 1977, Veterans Day was celebrated on the fourth Monday in October in keeping with the push to put all federal holidays on Monday. Tradition eventually won out, however, and the day was moved back to Nov. 11 in recognition of the armistice that ended World War I.

3. Alabama’s role in Veterans Day
Raymond Weeks, a World War II veteran from Alabama, came up with the idea in 1945 to honor all veterans on Nov. 11, not just the ones who had served in World War I.

4. Don’t confuse Veterans Day and Memorial Day
Veterans Day (Nov. 11) is intended to thank living veterans for their service, whether they served during wartime or not. Memorial Day is on the last Monday in May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country.

5. Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery has ceremony on Veterans Day every year to honor those who died during times of war. The ceremonies are held around the Tomb of the Unknowns with a combined color guard representing all military services executing a “Present Arms” at the tomb at 11:11 a.m.

6. Correct spelling
The correct spelling of Veterans Day is just that – Veterans Day. There’s no apostrophe. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, that’s because the day doesn’t belong to a veteran but serves to recognize all current and former members of the armed forces.

7. How many veterans in the U.S.?
There are roughly 21.7 million living veterans in the U.S. About 1.5 million of them are older than age 85. The largest group is between ages 65-69. Alabama is home to some 413,618 veterans.

8. Where do the most veterans live?
California is home to the most veterans in the country (more than 21 million). Four other states – Florida, Texas, New York and Pennsylvania – are all home to more than 1 million veterans each.

9. Tomb of the Unknown
On Nov. 11, 1921, an American soldier was buried at Arlington Cemetery. His identity was unknown and as such, his gravesite is called the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. A wreath is laid on the grave every year during Veterans Day ceremonies held at the cemetery.

10. Female veterans?
There are more than 1.6 million female veterans in the U.S.