- Veterans Day, a federal holiday, will be celebrated across the country and the world on Friday.
- If “Thank you for your work” does not sound appropriate, experts recommend using other words.
- About 7% of US adults were veterans, according to 2018 US Census Bureau data.
Almost 18 million people will be honored at Veterans Day celebrations held on Friday across the country and around the world for the holiday that coincides with the end of World War I.
The date marks when Germany and the Allies signed the 1918 treaty to end hostilities. The battle ended at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. At that time, Nov. 11, 1918 was known as the end of “the war to end all wars,” according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs.
In 1919, President Wilson announced Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day to celebrate and observe the end of hostilities with the police, public meetings and “temporary suspension of business to begin with.”
“For us in America, memories of Armistice Day will be filled with pride in the heroism of our country’s fallen and with gratitude for victory,” Wilson said.
On November 11, banks, post offices, and many businesses will close their doors to honor veterans and active-duty military “patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the good,” the Veterans Affairs’ website says.
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Why was Armistice Day before Veterans Day?
Armistice Day was declared to honor those who served in World War I and later evolved to recognize veterans of all US wars.
After Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day in 1954, this holiday was celebrated in October for several years in the 1970s, but was later changed back to its original date of November 11.
This day is still known as Armistice Day in some European countries, including France.
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Is it better to say ‘Happy Veterans Day’ or ‘Thank you’?
Stop saying “Happy Veterans Day,” — there are better words to use, John Raughter, assistant director of media relations at the American Legion, he told USA TODAY last year. (You also don’t have to say “Happy Memorial Day.”)
“Thank you” is a better option.
Michael Brennan, a US Army veteran and associate clinical director of the veterans program at Rush University, shared Psychology Today a statement that often when he was in uniform, people appreciated him for his work and it felt good to receive praise and it would make me feel proud of what I do. “
But, there are others who may find that line offensive, too, Raughter said. Some veterans are enlisted and not committed to active duty, and others may have mixed feelings about their time in the service.
“Just be casual and ask them about their biggest accomplishments, personal and professional, if they choose to share,” Shawn Brown, a US Army veteran, previously told USA TODAY.
Black veterans face different things
Despite serving in all of America’s wars, Black veterans have long faced increased burdens upon returning from military service.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development found out 2021 report that while 12% of US veterans are Black or African American, Black veterans are overrepresented in the homeless population, accounting for more than a third of the roughly 20,000 people.
In 2016, Equal Justice Initiative Director Bryan Stevenson he wrote that “no one was more vulnerable to violence and racial attacks than the African-American soldiers who showed their bravery and courage as soldiers” during the Civil War, WWI and WWII.
“Because of their military service, African-American soldiers were seen as a threat to Jim Crow and racial subjugation. Thousands of African-American soldiers were attacked, beaten, assaulted, threatened, abused or killed after the war.”
After WWII, Black veterans were at risk of experiencing racial violence at home and were denied access to programs like the 1944 GI Bill, which helped millions of veterans transition to civilian life, according to 2017. Report of the Equal Justice Initiative.
What do health professionals recommend?
Some health professionals and psychologists say it’s good to differentiate individualized praise, Brennan wrote.
Some examples are “thank you for your service,” “welcome home,” or “thank you for your dedication.”
Ultimately, Brennen believes it’s okay to acknowledge someone’s work regardless of “time of work, department of work, whether or not they work or place of delivery, etc.,” he said.
Veterans Day is different from Memorial Day
Unlike Veterans Day, Memorial Day honors members of the military who have died while serving in the US military.
Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress in 1971, and its roots go back to the Civil War era, according to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs in the United States.
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Ways to support veterans
Brennan recommends getting involved in your local veterans’ organizations by volunteering, donating resources or simply saying thank you for their service when you meet one. You can also support a veteran-owned business or visit veterans hospital patients.
Veterans often like to be asked about their time in and out of the service if they appear to be open.
Camille Fine is a featured producer on USA TODAY’s NOW team.
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