Veterans Day 2021

Learn the History and Meaning Behind Veterans Day

October 5, 2021
Veteran With Flag

Veterans Day is observed every year on November 11. This year, the 11th day of the 11th month is a Thursday. Learn the true meaning of Veterans Day and its important history—as well as 10 ways to show vets how you appreciate the sacrifices that they have made. 

When Is Veterans Day?

Veterans Day is a federal holiday in the United States, observed officially on November 11, regardless of the day of the week on which it falls. 

In 2021, Veterans Day occurs on Thursday, November 11.

Veterans Day Dates

Year Veterans Day
2021 Thursday, November 11
2022 Friday, November 11
2023 Saturday, November 11
2024 Monday, November 11

    What Does Veterans Day Mean?

    Veterans Day is an important day set aside to honor and show appreciation for ALL who have served in the United States military—in wartime or peacetime, living, or deceased.

    We can’t all be heroes; someone has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.”
    —Roy Rogers

    In Canada, November 11 is called Remembrance Day. This day, which is more similar to Memorial Day than Veterans Day, honors veterans who have died in service to their country.

    What’s the Difference Beween Veterans Day and Memorial Day?

    On both Veterans Day and Memorial Day, it’s customary to spend time remembering and honoring the countless veterans who have served the United States throughout the country’s history. However, there is a distinction between the two holidays:

    • Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL who have served, living or deceased, but particular the living veterans among us. 
    • Memorial Day specifically commemorates the men and women who died while in service of their country and made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. 

      A Short History of Veterans Day

      Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day in the United States, commemorating the signing of the agreement that ended World War I at 11:00 A.M., November 11, 1918. President Woodrow Wilson celebrated the first Armistice Day in 1919.

      In 1938, November 11 became a legal holiday by an act of Congress.

      In 1954, this federal hoiday was changed from “Armistice” to “Veterans” Day.

      Although this holiday initially honored those who perished in service to their country, when the holiday’s name was changed to Veterans Day, it became a day to honor ALL the men and women who have served in the armed forces of the United States.

      Each year, special ceremonies are held at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

      Vietnam memorial
      Part of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

      10 Ways To Show Vets Appreciation

      Remember that Veterans Day is to honor the service of all Americans who have served, but particular the living veterans among us. Many of our vets stepped in harm’s way on our behalf. 

      Therefore, a cheery “Happy Veterans Day!” may not quite be fiting to a person who may have friends who diedin combat. According to a veterans poll (CVN), 49% of vets feel uneasy with the expression, “Thank you for your service.” They weren’t sure how to respond, and preferred action to words. 

      But don’t get hung up on not knowing exactly how to express your gratitude to a veteran. Everyone knows and appreciates a kind word and, even better, an act of kindness.

      Here are 10 ways you can show vets that you appreciate the sacrifices they made:

      1. If you personally know a veteran (perhaps a relative, friend, or even a neighbor), reach out to them on Veterans Day. This is one opportunity to engage beyond just saying thank you. If they are comfortable discussing it, ask a vet where they served, where they were stationed, what specific jobs they did while serving, and so on.
      2. If you’re not close to a veteran, write a thank you card and drop it off at a VA hospital. If you’re not in time for this Veterans Day, that’s fine; a thoughtful card is appreciated any time. Or, contact Operation Gratitude, which sends letters of thanks and care packages to veterans as well as deployed vets. 
      3. Place a small flag on every veteran’s grave. This is an annual tradition for many scout troops. In some states, there are “Operation Flags For Vets” organizations. Call your local cemetary first for permission.
      4. Do you have a driver’s license? Help bring disabled vets to their doctor appointments. Contact the hospital service coordinator [PDF] at your local VA Hospital.
      5. If you make charitable donations, consider helping wounded veterans. Or, sponsor an “honor flight” to send veterans of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam to Washington D.C. to see their national monuments. Donate here.
      6. Perhaps you or your church group or scout group would like to actively help a vet in your own community? Contact a local veterans assistance program, such as the one offered by DAV. From helping do yard work or running errands. There’s sure to be a need.
      7. Call your Veterans Administration Hospital. See how you can help out.
      8. Display the flag proudly to salute our veterans! See how to properly display the American Flag.
      9. Read the poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCreae and reflect on the poem’s significance to veterans. 
      10. Spend an hour or more learning about our nation’s veterans. The Great War Society has developed a Web site devoted to World War I educational materials. The World War II Memorial celebrates the victory of “the greatest generation” with a design that uses moving water to harmonize with its natural surroundings. Visit the Korean War Veterans Memorial online; this moving memorial, dedicated in 1995, is the latest addition to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. See a registry of all the names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

      Learn more about the military men and women who are on duty today.


      Reader Comments

      Leave a Comment


      One of the suggestions above was to ask a veteran about his military experiences. This may be generally a good idea; however, keep in mind that many veterans suffered horrendous experiences in combat and would rather not talk about it. So, unless the veteran expresses a willingness to share his or her military experiences, don’t push it.


      I'd like to point out that Veterans Day is actually not necessarily to honor those still serving, but to honor those who have served our country and have separated in good standing. Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations defines a veteran as “a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.” There is a separate holiday for honoring those that are still serving, Armed Forces Day. Armed Forces Day is observed on the third Saturday of the month of May and was created to recognize and thank those who are currently serving in all branches of our armed forces.

      Veteran's Day

      My late husband was a Vietnam veteran. He served his country proudly in this unpopular war regardless of what people said to him. Today, November 11, I will read a letter at my church that my daughter wrote to our local newspaper about her father's service. She was awarded a prize by the Vietnam Veterans of America.


      Thank you for this Veteran's Day history and God bless those who died for this country and given us peace.

      A Word of Caution

      I generally agree with your suggestion to ask a veteran about his or her service because they can give you a perspective that is different from what you may have. However, please remember that for many veterans, the details of their service are painful to recall. Many veterans do not wish to talk about their war time experiences, so don't push too hard for information.

      Armistice - Veterans

      Armistice (arm=arms, stice=come to a stand/stop) - means the ceasing of arms. "Armistice Day" was changed to "Veterans Day" in America. Americans know that arms will -not- stop, and that we'll always have veterans. I wish I was wrong about this.

      what does this mean?

      I really don't understand what this mean. i kinda find it insulting.

      Veteran's Day and what it means

      Just because we don't understand something does not make it an insult. But ignorance of something does not enable one to insult what they are ignorant of. Veteran's Day in layman terms means that someone went to war to protect your freedom. American soldiers put their lives in jeopardy so that American citizens can sleep peacefully and keep their freedom. Soldiers put your freedom before their families and friends because they believe it to be a worthy cause. Because they chose to fight on your behalf you have the liberty and freedom to worship, speech, press, assembly, and petition where you please without fear of death; you don't have to worry that you are going to house military without a say; to possess weapons; freedom of unreasonable search and seizure; right to due process of law, free from self-incrimination, double jeopardy; right to fair, speedy, and public trial; right to trial by jury in civil cases; freedom from excessive bail, cruel and un-humane punishments; rights of all people; and separation of church and state. The right to vote for the candidate of your choice and the amendments that are up for vote. That is why Veteran's and Veterans's Day is honored.


      It shouldn't be insulting - it's a day to commemorate veterans, past and present, to thank them for their service and, in many cases, making the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom in America.

      American Flag

      My son and some of his friends displayed the American Flag on their trucks/vehicles. The principal told them that they had to take them down because it was offensive and illegal. Really?! I spoke with my brothers that are both military and they commended theses boys, Can they really get in trouble? I’m pretty sure the school can’t make them take it’s our freedom of speech and we live in America ! Wondering what’s our next step


      The flag should not be displayed on a float except from a staff, nor draped over the hood, top, sides, or back of a vehicle.
      When the flag is displayed on a vehicle, the staff should be fixed firmly to the chassis.

      Follow the guidelines, and be proud your sons care enough to display the flag.
      As for the principal, tell him to mind his own business.

      Principal claims US FLAG ILLEGAL

      They should have put that person in the hospital


      I very much appreciated this concise and clear reminder of an important holiday. On behalf of all veterans, Thank You for writing it.

      weather report

      fo r veterans day Washington dc Maryland

      Veterans Day

      I am so thankful that our country has a holiday commemorating our military men and women. I praise the Lord for all those who are willing to serve our nation by sacrificing their lives to keep our nation free. I am thankful for all that do things to honor our military on this special.