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What Does Veterans Day Mean?

Veterans Day is intended to honor all those who served in the United States Armed Forces and thank them for their service and sacrifice.

Veterans selflessly serve their country, often putting themselves in harm's way to defend the freedoms we all enjoy. 

Veterans Day is a significant observance celebrated to honor all those who served in the United States Armed Forces and thank them for their service. Veterans Day is also a reminder of the sacrifices military members make and an opportunity to acknowledge the courage and dedication of their service. 

Veterans Day Facts
Date Observed Each Year   Nov. 11
Originally Known as Armistice Day
Date Holiday Was Established Nov. 11, 1919
Originally Established By Woodrow Wilson


The Meaning of Veterans Day

Every year, communities nationwide come together to recognize and honor veterans on Veterans Day. It is a time to express gratitude and appreciation, from parades to ceremonies to special events. It is also a time to reflect on veterans' impact on this country and acknowledge the challenges they may face returning home or transitioning into civilian life.

While the textbook meaning of Veterans Day provides a general understanding of what it is and why we celebrate, the individual perspectives of veterans capture the day's essence. Each veteran Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) serves carries their own unique experiences. These experiences shape what Veterans Day means to them.

The videos below offer a glimpse into their thoughts: 


The History of Veterans Day

Veterans Day is a federal holiday. It was initially known as Armistice Day and celebrated the end of World War I (WWI) on Nov. 11, 1918. It honored WWI veterans and recognized the armistice, or call for peace, by the Germans on the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month." 

After World War II and the Korean War, veterans service organizations urged the U.S. Congress to amend the holiday to be more inclusive of all veterans. Thus, Veterans Day was officially born in 1954 to honor all American veterans, past and present. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was responsible for changing the name officially.

Despite a similar history, Veterans Day in other countries is recognized but may have a different name. In Canada, Nov. 11 is known as Remembrance Day (or Poppy Day). While it also acknowledges veterans, the day's emphasis is on remembrance and paying tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Remembrance poppies are often worn to honor those who died in war.

Great Britain calls it Remembrance Day, too; however, it’s observed on the Sunday closest to Nov. 11. They hold parades and services in addition to moments of silence for the fallen. 

Test Your Knowledge


Veterans Day vs. Memorial Day

A common question is, “What's the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day?”

Although they both involve honoring the military community, they serve different purposes. Memorial Day honors and remembers those who gave their lives in service to their country. While deceased veterans are also remembered on Veterans Day, the day specifically celebrates all living veterans who served in war and peace.

Another critical difference is when they are observed: Memorial Day is in May, and Veterans Day is in November. 

Apostrophe or No Apostrophe 

Should Veterans Day have an apostrophe? The quick answer is no. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the reason is that the day does not belong to one veteran; it is intended to honor all veterans.

In a traditional sentence, the word ‘veterans’ is typically used as a noun. On Veterans Day, it’s used as an attributive noun or adjective. 

Empowering the Next Generation 

WWP partners with organizations that offer military-connected families support, specifically military kids. No one organization can meet the needs of all wounded, injured, or ill veterans alone. By collaborating with community partners, WWP can amplify the effects of all efforts and provide a holistic model of care.

Together, WWP and its partners work to improve quality of life through connection, service, and support.

  • Comfort Crew for Military Kids delivers proven strategies to prepare every military child for the unique challenges they face so they positively impact themselves and their families. Their Comfort Kits provide critical strategies to nurture resilience for all kids' challenges and the extraordinary challenges military families experience.
  • As co-chairs with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, WWP is proud to lead the Hidden Helpers Coalition — a collective of more than 80 nonprofits, corporations, and government entities dedicated to supporting children and youth caregivers.
  • National Military Family Association (NMFA) is on a mission to stand up for, support, and enhance the quality of life for every military family through bold advocacy, innovative programming, and dynamic and responsive solutions. The organization honors and celebrates service in its Operation Purple programs, including Operation Purple camps. NMFA encourages children and families to honor the veterans in their lives by sharing photos, videos, memories, and stories.
  • Our Military Kids recognizes the service and sacrifice of military children by offering extracurricular activity grants when a parent is deployed with the National Guard, the Reserve or is a veteran or in any branch of service recovering from severe post-9/11 combat injuries. Participation in the activities minimizes emotional, behavioral, health, and academic difficulties when children or teens are separated from a parent physically or emotionally while also reinforcing the positive aspects of deployment or recovery, such as building resilience, self-sufficiency, and strong family ties.
  • Travis Manion Foundation (TMF) strives to unite and strengthen communities by training, developing, and highlighting the role models that lead them. They expose youth to veteran mentors through presentations, leadership panels, and experiential learning opportunities. Interacting with and learning about veterans is an impactful way to support those who served our country.

"Wounded Warrior Project is proud and honored to stand with these organizations to help enhance the quality of life for wounded veterans and their families across the nation," said WWP CEO Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Mike Linnington. "We must work together as a community to ensure veterans' and their families' needs are met when and where they arise. Together, we provide a continuum of support for veterans at home, work, and in their communities."

 About Wounded Warrior Project

Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more.

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