Veterans Day is a national holiday honoring all those who have served in the U.S. military. Veterans Day was once called Armistice Day and began on November 11, 1918, to commemorate the armistice of the “War to End All Wars,” or World War I. President Wilson remarked how he thought the day should be remembered with these words:
"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"
The original concept for the celebration of Armistice Day was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11 a.m.
In 1938, Armistice Day became a legal holiday. In June of 1954 Armistice Day became a day to honor American veterans of all wars and was renamed Veterans Day. However, the date was changed to a Monday in the same way as Washington’s Birthday and Columbus Day. Then in 1977, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 that, beginning in 1978, returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11. In signing the legislation, Ford stated that his action supported the desires of the overwhelming majority of state legislatures, all major veterans service organizations, and the American people.
With war in Iraq, and recent natural disasters in which military personnel have participated with such effectiveness, it is important for the school community to recognize the sacrifices that soldiers, their families, and military support people have made to keep America and the rest of the world free and safe. Veterans Day offers many opportunities for learning. The following websites and pieces of children’s literature were selected to support teachers and school leaders in this effort.
Veterans Day: Department of Veterans Affairs
USS Liberty: November 11-Veterans Day-Remembrance Day-Armistice
Veterans History Project
Patriotic Fact Sheet
Memoir of a Civilian POW: Example of a Local Oral History
Veterans Day Crafts, Projects, Worksheets, Books, and Printouts
Ansary, Mir Tamim. Veterans Day (Holiday Histories). Heinemann, 2001.
Ashabranner , Brent. Always to Remember: The Story of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Scholastic, 1992.
Ashabranner, Brent. Remembering Korea: Korean War. 21st Century, 2001.
Ashabranner, Brent. Their Names To Live By. 21st Century, 1998.
Brill, Marlene Targ. Veterans Day (On My Own, Holidays). First Avenue Editions, 2005. (also in Spanish)
Bunting, Eve. The Wall. Clarion Books, 1992.
Cotton, Jacqueline S. Veterans Day (Rookie Read-About Holidays). Children's Press, 2002.
De Capua, Sarah. The Vietnam Memorial (Cornerstones of Freedom). Children's Press, 2003.
Ferry, Joseph. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial (American Symbols & Their Meanings). Mason Crest Publishers, 2002.
Henry, Heather French. Pepper's Purple Heart: A Veterans Day Story. Cubbie Blue Publishing, 2003.
Kaplan, Leslie C. Veterans Day (The Library of Holidays). PowerKids Press, 2004.
Landau, Elaine. Veterans Day: Remembering Our War Heroes (Finding Out About Holidays). Enslow Elementary, 2002.
Nelson, Robin. Veterans Day (First Step Nonfiction). Lerner Publications, 2005.
Peter, James S. The Saga of Black Navy Veterans of World War II. International Scholars Press, 1996.
Rosinsky, Natalie. Vietnam Veterans Memorial (We the People). Compass Point Books, 2006.
Sevastiades, Patra McSharry. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial (The Library of American Landmarks). PowerKids Press, 1994.
Stein, Conrad. The Korean War Veterans Memorial (Cornerstones of Freedom). Children's Press, 2002.
Schuch, Marci C. Veterans Day (Pebble Books). Capstone Press, 2003.
Worsley, Arlene. Veterans Day (American Holidays). Weigl Publishers, 2006.