This Sunday, November 11, 2012, is Veterans Day. And surprisingly, at least to me, many people confuse the events surrounding Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Why do we have two specific holidays to honor Veterans? What is the difference?

While both holidays were established to honor the men and women of the armed forces, they have two distinctly different reasons for being. Memorial Day, observed on the last Monday in May, is set aside as a day to remember and honor the men and women who died in service, either while in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle.

Veterans Day is a day to honor and thank all military personnel who served in all wars, with a bit more focus on living veterans. Its intended to acknowledge and thank veterans for their service and for all they do for our country.

At Quicken Loans, we take our commitment to our veterans very seriously. Through outreach initiatives, partnerships with service organizations, commitments to events like the Quicken Loans Carrier Classic or through exemplary treatment of veterans who are looking for VA loans, we keep our finger very closely on the pulse of the military community. That’s why it’s important for us to help spread the word and raise awareness about the importance and the history of this tradition-rich holiday.

The history of Veterans Day goes back all the way to 1919, when then President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed an Armistice day for November 11. In proclaiming the holiday, he said:

“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”

The United States Congress passed a resolution seven years later recognizing the end of WW1 and requested that President Calvin Coolidge proclaim that all government buildings on November 11 should display the United States flag, along with encouraging citizens to observe the day in school, churches and so on with appropriate related ceremonies. On May 13, 1938, an act was approved to make November 11 a legal holiday: “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day’.”

An act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) was approved on May 13, 1938, which made November 11 in each year a legal holiday, known as Armistice Day. This day was originally intended to honor veterans of World War I. A few years later, World War II required the largest mobilization of service men in the history of the United States, and the American forces fought in Korea. In 1954, the veterans service organizations urged Congress to change the word “Armistice” to “Veterans.” Congress approved this change, and on June 1, 1954, November 11 became a day to honor all American veterans, wherever and whenever they had served.

In 1953, an Emporia, Kansas man named Alvin King, the owner of a shoe repair shop, had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans, not just those who died in World War I. King had been actively involved with the American War Dads during World War II. He began a campaign to turn Armistice Day into “All” Veterans Day. The Emporia Chamber of Commerce took up the cause after determining that 90% of Emporia merchants as well as the Board of Education supported closing their doors on November 11 to honor all veterans. With the help of U.S. Representative Ed Rees, also from Emporia, a bill for the holiday was pushed through Congress. President Dwight Eisenhower signed it into law on May 26, 1954.

Congress amended this act on June 1, 1954, replacing “Armistice” with “Veterans,” and it has been known as Veterans Day since.

So instead of a day of solemn reverence, Veterans Day should be seen as a day of celebration, of appreciation and honor. Will you and your family be doing anything for Veterans Day? Do you have any Veterans Day traditions? Let me know!


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