One of the most recognizable and moving images in our United States military history is the Veterans Day wreath-laying ceremony in Arlington National Cemetery at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The somber ceremony, held precisely at 11:00 a.m. on November 11, honors and commemorates the end of World War I. More than that, it honors the soldiers who fought in The Great War and expresses our country’s thanks to all who serve in the United States Armed Forces — past and present.
The Tomb is 100 years old for Veterans Day 2021. WWII Veterans are few, and Korean War Veterans are now in their 90’s. The people who lived through those years are your parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents – and they probably have amazing stories to share with the younger generations! Why not find out?
This Veterans Day, take some time to honor and appreciate the Veterans in your life and the seniors who loved them.
The History of Veterans Day
Veterans Day commemorates the end of WWI when the armistice was put in place between the Allies and Germany. The exact time was the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month – for that reason, Veterans Day is observed on November 11.
The first anniversary of that day was called Armistice Day. After World War II and the Korean War, Veteran service organizations encouraged Congress to change the name to honor all American Veterans.
For too many people today, Veterans Day is simply a “free” day off work. But for those who know better, that yearly wreath-laying ceremony at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier holds a deep significance many of us will never fully understand.
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
The familiar wreath-laying ceremony marks the beginning of Veterans Day activities by honoring the soldiers who came home from war but remained unidentified. This year’s ceremony commemorates the centennial anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
It was November 11, 1921, when the Tomb was dedicated with the burial of an unidentified service member from WWI. Other unknown soldiers were interred there in later years. The Tomb has become a beloved symbol of those unidentified soldiers who lost their lives in WWI, WWII, and the Korean War. It is a promise to them — and all Americans after them — that they will not be forgotten.
What Does Veterans Day Mean to the Seniors in Your Life?
There’s no question that war is life-changing for the soldiers who served, but it also has ramifications for their loved ones back home. The seniors in your life have all lived through times of war, and Veterans Day may be significant to them in ways you’re not aware of:
- They may have served in wartime or peace
- Their friends and loved ones may have served and been lost
- They may have suffered losses at home because of the wars
- It’s a day of reflection and hope that future generations don’t suffer the same
- It’s a day of gratitude for those who returned home, and their loved ones
For many, it’s meaningful to know that they are seen, and their challenges are not forgotten.
How to Help Your Senior Honor Veterans Day
Here are some ideas to commemorate the day together, Veteran or not:
- Attend a parade together to show your appreciation to all local Veterans
- Attend a local community Veterans Day event
- Donate to an organization that supports Veterans in honor of your senior
- Visit a memorial together
- Fly your flag proudly and correctly
- Write a letter or email to the Veterans in your life, thanking them for their service
- Visit a park together – admission at national parks is free on Veterans Day
- Volunteer at a Veterans Service Organization
- Ask your senior what Veterans Day means to them
As the years go by and new generations face new challenges, it’s important to honor the generations that came before us. Recognizing the challenges they faced helps keep their memories alive for future generations.
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