November 11. It’s coming up on Friday. Do you know what it’s all about? Do you know who we honor every year on that date? I’m guessing most of you do, but I’m going to give you some background anyway.
November 11 isn’t just another day off from work, if indeed you have the day off. It’s Veterans Day in the U.S. and Remembrance Day in Canada, the day we choose to celebrate all those who serve and have served in our armed forces (U.S.) and those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country (Canada). You probably won’t see fireworks on these national holidays, but you might just catch a neighborhood parade or a wreath laying ceremony at your local cemetery. And in Canada there will be poppies as far as you can see.
Both countries initially acknowledged Armistice Day, a commemoration of the day when World War I came to an end when a ceasefire was finally declared on the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918.
In 1954, Congress officially changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day to celebrate the monumental sacrifices made by a record number of U.S. military who went into battle during World War II. Since then, Veterans Day honors all members of the U.S. Armed Forces, thanking them for their service.
Every year, at 11 a.m. on November 11 in Washington, D.C., a special ceremony is held at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Ceremony. The president lays a wreath, and a color guard honors those who fell in battle. Throughout the U.S., many mark the day by attending parades or local events. If you’re looking for ways to honor veterans and thank them for their service, there are several military charities that directly benefit former military, such as the Wounded Warrior Project and the USO.
Remembrance Day in Canada was established in 1931. Events there are similar to those of Veterans Day happenings in the U.S. Official national ceremonies are held at the National War Memorial in Ottawa and there are local celebrations in cities throughout the country. Wreaths are placed at the base of the memorials and many people also put poppies, the traditional flower of remembrance for this particular day, on the tombs of soldiers who died in battle. Canadians also observe one or two minutes of silence at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, as that marks the time when the armistice became effective.
This November 11 let’s remember the exceptional sacrifice our military men and women living and deceased in both countries have made to help protect our countries. Even better, let’s make it a habit to remember their service year ‘round. It’s the least we can do to show our appreciation.