Veterans Day is a special time to honor and appreciate the brave men and women who have served our country in the military. While Veterans Day is not as widely celebrated as Memorial Day or Independence Day, that doesn't mean it's any less important. If you're ready to pay tribute to those who have risked their lives for our freedom, here are six ways to celebrate this special day. From simple activities like lighting candles and sharing a meal with extended family, to more involved endeavors like organizing a charity drive or attending an event at your local VA hospital—there are plenty of ways to help give back to those who have given so much to us. Read on for six ideas on how you can show your gratitude this November 11th.
Watch and Read: A Short History of Veterans Day
Veterans Day began as Armistice Day, which was first observed to mark the end of World War I hostilities on November 11, 1918. This day was chosen because it was the exact date on which fighting in the war had ceased. After World War II, the date became recognized as a day to honor all veterans. In 1954, Congress made Veterans Day an official federal holiday, requiring all federal agencies to close on November 11th to mark the occasion. Although the name of this holiday has evolved over the years, its significance has remained the same—to remember and honor the men and women who have served our country. There are many ways to learn more about the history of Veterans Day. One fun option is to watch the 1945 film, "The Story of GI Joe." This black-and-white film originally aired on television to commemorate the first Armistice Day after World War II. It is a classic example of how Veterans Day was once celebrated, as well as a great snapshot of how our society viewed the contributions of veterans in the 20th century. For a more contemporary account of Veterans Day, you can also read the speech that President Donald Trump gave during this year's observance in the White House East Room.
Honor Those Who Served by Visiting a VA Hospital
If you're looking for an active way to show your gratitude to our veterans, you can visit one of the many Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals across the country. While Veterans Day is a federal holiday, many VA hospitals are open and welcoming visitors all year long. This is especially true in the winter, when shorter days and colder temperatures can make it difficult for many veterans to travel. If you'd like to show your support for our veterans, visiting a VA hospital is a great option. In addition to helping to lift the spirits of those who served, a visit to a VA can also be a moving and educational experience. Many VA hospitals host special Veterans Day activities, such as art exhibits, poetry readings, and musical performances. If you're able to visit a VA hospital in person, you can even take part in guided tours and lectures with doctors and other staff.
Throw a Dinner Party for Veterans and Their Families
While you're visiting the VA hospital or making plans to host an event in honor of our veterans, you can also invite them to join you for a special dinner with their families. Veterans Day is often a hectic time of year as families rush to finish shopping and prepare for Thanksgiving. If you're hosting a celebration in the lead-up to the holiday, consider extending an invitation to the veterans who live near you. You can invite them to join your family for a pre-Thanksgiving dinner and to spend some time with your children. This is a great way to share your gratitude with the veterans in your community while also giving them a much-needed break from the chaos that often surrounds Veterans Day. If you're looking for a special recipe to include at your dinner party, you can try this classic casserole dish made with seasoned ground beef, cheese, and diced tomatoes.
Help Out Through a Charity Drive
When planning your Veterans Day celebration, consider organizing a charity drive. Veterans are often overlooked in society. While the general public regularly donates money to support other causes, veterans are often left out in the cold. If you'd like to give back to the people who have defended our freedom, you can organize a charity drive to collect needed supplies. There are many items that veterans are in constant need of, such as basic hygiene items, warm clothing, and food. You can organize your charity drive with friends or family members, or even through your school or place of employment. Once your drive is underway, post regular updates to social media, so others can see what your group is doing to help those in need.
Go to an Event Honoring Our Heroes
To cap off your Veterans Day celebration, consider going to a special event honoring our veterans. Many cities and towns across the country host Veterans Day parades and other special events, featuring keynote speakers and entertainment. You can also visit your local VA hospital to see special ceremonies honoring our veterans, or attend special events hosted by your local American Legion Hall or Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) chapter. Alternatively, you may want to visit a cemetery or memorial that pays tribute to veterans who were killed in action. While visiting these sites will be a somber reminder of the sacrifices our veterans have made, it will also provide you with a sense of closure by showing your gratitude for the lives that were lost.
Veterans Day is a special time to honor and appreciate the brave men and women who have served our country in the military. While Veterans Day is not as widely celebrated as Memorial Day or Independence Day, that doesn't mean it's any less important. If you're ready to pay tribute to those who have risked their lives for our freedom, here are six ways to celebrate this special day. From simple activities like lighting candles and sharing a meal with extended family, to more involved endeavors like organizing a charity drive or attending an event at your local VA hospital—there are plenty of ways to help give back to those who have given so much to us.