Many Veterans Day activates in southwest Michigan, like many public events, were cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the national ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery was still scheduled for Wednesday.
During the Wednesday event, Robert Wilkie, U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs, will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in recognition and commemoration of the Veterans who have served in the armed forces for the United States. Because of COVID-19, in-person participation in the event was limited, but the national cemetery plans to livestream it on it’s website.
Even though many local events were canceled, the day was designed to honor all of those who served, so here are some ways to do that, including adding your favorite veteran to our honoring veterans gallery; and to learn a little more about the day, the history and veterans.
The Kalamazoo County Veterans Events Committee announced last week that although the ceremony is canceled, a Veteran of the Year will be named on Nov. 11. The committee usually holds a ceremony at the Robert L. Cook Veterans Memorial Plaza at Rose Park.
Q: When was the first Veterans Day?
A: The tradition was formalized and made a national holiday in 1954, when President Eisenhower signed a proclamation setting Nov. 11 as Veterans Day. The day had previously been known as Armistice Day, marking the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. That signing happened Nov. 11, at 11 a.m. in 1918. It’s a moment known as the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month.
Q: Do other nation’s mark that day?
A: Yes, Great Britain, France, Australia and Canada also commemorate the veterans of World Wars I and II on or near Nov. 11. Great Britain and the Commonwealth countries usually observe two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. every Nov. 11.
Q: Why isn’t Veterans Day celebrated on a Monday like many federal holidays.
A: A federal law passed in 1968 did move the federal holiday for Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. However, many still celebrated it on Nov. 11, a day that carried historic significance for many Americans. So, in 1978, Congress changed it back to Nov. 11.
Q: What are some ways to honor veterans at home?
Watch the livestreamed event from Arlington National Cemetery through this link, Veterans Day Wreath Laying Ceremony, starting at 10:50 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 11. Or, check out the livestream inserted above.
Hang a flag in your yard.
Observe two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. Nov. 11.
Visit a veteran’s cemetery, such as Fort Custer National Cemetery in Battle Creek. COVID-19 restrictions are in place, and hours are limited, but check the cemetery website for times it will be open to visitors.
Cook a meal for a veteran in your family.
Q: What is the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day?
A: Veterans Day is designed to thanks those who are serving currently, as well as those who have served served in the past and are still living. Memorial Day is designed to remember those who lost their lives in service to their country.
Q: Where is the national observance held?
A: Usually, the U,S, president marks the day by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, where more than 400,000 are buried, mostly military service men and women. The tomb in Arlington became a focal point for honoring veterans
Q: How many veterans are still living?
A: The Pew Research Center reports that about 300,000 of the 16 million who served during World War II were still alive in 2020. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports that there are 19.5 million veterans from all wars still living in the U.S.