World War I lasted from July 1914 until November 1918 and resulted in the loss of over 116,000 American soldiers’ lives. “The war to end all wars” involved over 30 countries worldwide. World War I officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919; however, a ceasefire was agreed upon between the Allies and Germany on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. This is why November 11, 1918, is regarded as the end of World War I. Because of the significance of November 11th, it made sense to eventually have Veterans Day on November 11th to remember the sacrifice, patriotism, and willingness to serve one’s country.
Veterans Day Was Not Always Veterans Day
Today, we know November 11th as Veterans Day. We celebrate patriotism and remember the sacrifices made by generations of military personnel who served our country. We hold parades, ceremonies, and many other events to remember those lost and those members of the military still alive. However, November 11th was not always Veterans Day; it even held a different name early on.
In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11th as Armistice Day. Armistice Day would recognize “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.” Like Veterans Day today, Armistice Day held parades and public meetings, including a brief closing of businesses starting at 11:00 AM. In 1938, Armistice Day became a legal holiday, primarily set aside to honor Veterans of World War I.
In 1954, after World War II and the Korean War, the Veterans Services organization urged Congress to remove “Armistice” and replace it with “Veterans,” now making November 11th Veterans Day. November 11th would now recognize all Veterans from any war, not just World War I. 1968 brought about the Uniform Holiday Bill, where four national holidays (Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day) would be celebrated on Mondays, allowing for federal employees to have extended weekends for travel or other activities. Unfortunately, this meant that the first Veterans Day under the new law was celebrated on October 25, 1971. Because of the significance of November 11th, President Gerald R. Ford signed a law that would return Veterans Day to November 11th beginning in 1978. For the last 45 years, Veterans Day has been remembered on this important day.
Military Forces and Their Mission
We know that those who served and are serving in the Military—more than 41 million combined today—made great sacrifices to keep our country safe. The men and women give up time with their families, move to wherever the mission takes them (globally), and sometimes sacrifice their lives. This is why it is good to highlight the Military Forces and their missions to support the United States and its allies.
The National Guard is the oldest of the Military Forces, founded on December 13, 1636. The initial National Guard comprised four regiments: the 181st Infantry, the 182nd Infantry, the 101st Field Artillery, and the 101st Engineer Battalion of the Massachusetts Army National Guard. Today’s National Guard comprises the Army National Guard and Air National Guard. Their mission is to support combat missions, domestic emergencies, humanitarian efforts, homeland security and operations, and more.
The Army was founded on June 14, 1775, and is one of three military departments reporting to the Department of Defense. According to army.mil, the operational Army consists of numbered armies, corps, divisions, brigades, and battalions that conduct full spectrum operations worldwide. The institutional Army supports the operational Army. Institutional organizations provide the infrastructure necessary to raise, train, equip, deploy, and ensure the readiness of all Army forces (2023).” The Army’s mission is to “deploy, fight, and win our nation’s wars by providing ready, prompt, and sustained land dominance by Army forces across the full spectrum of conflict as part of the joint force (2023).”
Founded on October 13, 1775, the Navy is America’s global forward deployed force. The Navy operates carriers, cruisers and destroyers, submarines, amphibious craft, littoral combat ships, and hospital ships to carry out their mission. The Navy’s primary mission is to defend freedom, preserve economic prosperity, and keep the seas open and free. The Navy’s “global posture ensures the presence of naval forces with the right mix of platforms, capability, and capacity to maintain freedom of the seas, support international law and norms, stand by our allies, and continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows (navy.mil, 2023).”
The Marine Corps was founded on November 10, 1775, to provide operational support on land and sea. The Marines did their first amphibious raid in the Bahamas in 1776. The Marines’ website states, “Marines are driven by an innate desire to answer our nation’s call, an unwavering commitment to emerge victorious, and a collective purpose that defines our unbreakable bond.” Their support includes warfighting capabilities in any domain; response options to deter, defend, and support humanitarian efforts; and provides security to American embassies, naval bases, and additional services to the President of the United States.
The Coast Guard was established on August 4, 1790, and provides law and maritime safety enforcement, marine and environmental protection, and military naval support. During times of peace, the Coast Guard functions as a part of the Department of Homeland Security. When the United States is at war, the Coast Guard operates under the Navy.
On September 18, 1947, the Air Force was created. With a total force of over 600,000, the Air Force has five core functions: air superiority, global strike, rapid global mobility, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and command and control. The mission of the United States Air Force is to “fly, fight, and win…airpower anytime, anywhere (af.mil, 2023).”
The newest member of the Military Forces is Space Force. Space Force was founded on December 20, 2019, when the National Defense Authorization Act was signed into law. Their mission is to Secure our Nation’s interests in, from, and to space by providing forces, personnel, and partnerships required to preserve U.S. space superiority. Space Force consolidates satellite acquisition, budget, and workforce across more than 60 different organizations into a unified, efficient, effective service for space operations.
How Can We Support Our Veterans?
While it may be challenging to know how to support those who have been through times of war and under significant stressors, many programs support both Veterans and their spouses that the average person can participate in. Further, there are programs that corporations can sponsor to help Veterans who need assistance. Here are some well-known organizations that you can be a part of.
Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP)
As any spouse of a military member knows, a lot of frequent relocation can happen relatively quickly. This makes it difficult for spouses to maintain careers when moving to different states or countries while their loved one is enlisted in the military. Because of this issue, MSEP was launched in June 2011 to increase opportunities for military spouses to obtain private-sector careers. While initially for Army spouses, the program was expanded to Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force spouses. Since MSEP’s inception, over 275,000 military spouses have been hired.
As of October 18, 2023, Prominent Global Solutions (PGS) was inducted into the MSEP partnership; this brings the total number of partners to more than 700 employers. PGS’ CEO, Ms. Monique Myers, said, “We have a variety of positions and look forward to supporting the military community.”
Wounded Warrior Project
The Wounded Warrior Project started as a grassroots effort in 2003 to provide support for those military members returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Over the last 20 years, their support has expanded to include mental health, career counseling, long-term rehabilitative care, and advocacy efforts. According to the Wounded Warrior Project, 58 Veterans and family members sign up for their services every day. Some ways you can support are hosting a fundraiser, joining in a Carry Forward 5k run, and participating in live streaming and gaming to help spread their mission through live streaming events.
Gary Sinise Foundation
Gary Sinise started the Gary Sinise Foundation to support and honor our defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need. Some programs provided by this foundation include:
- Building specially adapted smart homes for our most severely wounded heroes.
- Providing home modifications, mobility devices, and adapted vehicles to our injured, wounded, ill, and/or aging heroes.
- Offering complete support before, during, and after the battle for families.
- Bridge the gap between our defender and civilian communities.
Both corporate and individual people can partner with the foundation to help support their cause and support of Veterans.
A Thank You
Sometimes, the simple things in life can have a lasting impact. A thank you for your service can go a long way for a Veteran. As November 11th comes around, remember what sacrifices our men and women in uniform have made. Ensure you relay that thank you whenever you encounter a veteran in your community.