Not just a day off: A look at the origins of Veterans Day

‘It’s not too much to say thank you’

BEDFORD, Va. – Every November, for more than a century, Americans have recognized Veterans Day as a time to honor and thank veterans.

With roots in the end of World War II, the holiday is so much more than a day off from work or a sale at your favorite store.

10 News took a closer look at the history of the day, and examined the concepts of service and sacrifice.

“Veterans Day is a day to honor those who have served in uniform," said John Long, director of education for the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford.

It’s also a day to reflect on the major sacrifice made by those who protect the freedom we all take for granted.

Long said Veterans Day goes back to the end of World War II, specifically November 11, 1918. One that day, Long said, "The guns fell silent in Europe. It was then known as Armistice Day.

The first time it was observed was a year later in 1919.

In 1954, President Eisenhower officially renamed the day “Veterans Day” to be inclusive to all veterans.

For a while in the 1970s, it was changed from the calendar date November 11 to a Monday in November, regardless of the calendar date. That wasn’t so popular, and it was quickly reverted to its original date that we now celebrate every year.

Last year, the National D-Day Memorial welcomed thousands to Bedford for the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

This year, things are different.

“If you know a veteran, especially one who is isolated because of COVID-19, give them a call. Send them a card. Let them know that we’re thinking of them even though we can’t celebrate in the way we normally do," said Long.

Service has so many different looks, whether you are retired or active duty or have served in a war or not. But no matter what, all it takes is one small thank you to those who have given so much.

“It’s not too much to say thank you. Thank you for your service to a veteran that’s done that," said Long.

About the Author

McKinley Strother joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2020. He anchors 10 News at 6 and 11 on Saturdays and Sundays and you'll also catch him reporting during the week.

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