Veterans Day is an annual holiday meant to honor individuals who have served in the armed forces. Originally, Veterans Day was named Armistice Day to commemorate the armistice reached on Nov. 11, 1918, that ended World War I.
The most famous of all Veterans Day observances is held at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. The observance is held at 11 a.m., the same time of the signing of the armistice to end World War I. The service includes two minutes of silence, and the president placing a wreath at the tomb. All Americans nationwide are encouraged to display the flag and recognize U.S. veterans with proper ceremony. Emporia, Kansas, the home of Alvin J. King, is home to one of the more famous Veterans Day ceremonies. On Oct. 31, 2003, Emporia was recognized by Congress as the “Founding City of the Veterans Day Holiday.”
- Currently, the Census Bureau reports that more than 21.2 million veterans currently reside in the U.S.
- California is home to the most veterans in the country with more than 2.1 million current and former service members in the population. Four other states — Florida, Texas, New York and Pennsylvania — also boast more than 1 million veterans each among their population
- There were 1.6 million female veterans residing in the United States in 2012
- There were 9.6 million veterans age 65 years and older and 1.8 million veterans age 35 years and younger living in the U.S. in 2012
- There were 3.6 million veterans with a service-connected disability in 2012.
The unofficial but well-known flower of Veterans Day is the poppy. This first became the symbol to remember fallen soldiers after John McCrae wrote a poem called In Flanders Fields on May 3, 1915. McCrae was a Canadian doctor and Lieutenant Colonel in the Canadian army. He wrote about how millions of poppy flowers grew in the Flanders field, where fallen troops had been buried.
In Flanders Fields
by Colonel John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
After this poem was published, veterans groups began to adopt it as a sign of remembrance and respect for those who died, and even those who served in World War I. Today, the flower has come to be a symbol of reverence for any person who served in the forces during any war. The poppy is often worn and distributed on Veterans Day.
While Veterans Day used to be a day for remembering fallen soldiers in past wars, it is now a day that is set aside for reflection, honor and remembrance for those soldiers who served and died, soldiers who served and lived, and those who are still serving today. Veterans Day activities take special care to give thanks to veterans that are still living.
What is Clay Aiken doing this Veterans Day? Where ever he is or what ever he is doing, I am sure he will acknowledge the importance of the day and begin to teach his young son about patriotism.