How will you celebrate and honor veterans on Veterans Day? We have some suggestions — even if you’re a military veteran yourself.
How to Honor Veterans on Veterans Day
Every year as the days get shorter and cooler, much of the holiday discussion and festivities center around Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas. As an active-duty service member, you may find yourself getting caught up in the hustle and bustle around these annual events.
But the time has come to treat Veterans Day with the same respect and recognition as the others, if you don’t already.
So, you may be asking how to honor veterans on Veterans Day. We have some suggestions, but before we get into those, let’s explore why the holiday formerly known as Armistice Day is celebrated every November. There’s a reason for it, and your understanding of this fact may help you come up with ideas to make each Veterans Day special and more memorable than the previous.
Why is Veterans Day held on Nov. 11?
As is the case for many national holidays — although definitely not all — where Veterans Day falls on the calendar is due to what took place on that day in history. With Veterans Day, specifically, this is when World War I officially came to an end. Originally called Armistice Day — “armistum” literally means a stoppage (stitium) of arms (arma) — all countries that were involved agreed to cease hostilities on Nov. 11, 1918.
Interestingly, for a few years, Veterans Day was moved to the fourth Monday in October when Congress passed — and the president at the time signed into law —the Uniform Holidays Bill. But 14 years after this occurred, President Gerald Ford returned it to Nov. 11 due to the historical significance of what occurred on that fateful day, as noted by History.com.
In short, Nov. 11 is no ordinary day and should not be treated as such. This also explains why other countries that composed the Allied Forces — including France, Australia, Great Britain and Canada — have their own iterations of Veterans Day that either fall on Nov. 11 or close to it. Canada and Britain refer to theirs as Remembrance Day. The celebration is for more than just American veterans.
How do veterans want to be honored on Veterans Day?
If you have a military background, you’ve likely come across many veterans over the years, both inside and outside of the armed forces. You can attest to the fact that veterans are frequently the epitome of humility; they had a job to do and they did it.
Of course, they might say that if there is anyone who is deserving of ongoing recognition and respect, it is the people who died on the battlefield and paid the ultimate sacrifice.
This can actually be one of the ways that you honor veterans on Veterans Day — by differentiating between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day is exclusively dedicated to those who gave their lives for the country. Veterans Day is for all who served, regardless of their branch, age or rank.
How do veterans want to be honored on Veterans Day? Your best move may be to simply ask them, or to “plant seeds” around the topic so you can derive an answer from them more subtly. In other words, try to get your question across indirectly. If they’re bashful about saying what they’d like or if they’d prefer to be treated like it’s any other day, use your best judgment and act accordingly. The ideal guide may be your gut, especially if this veteran is someone you know well. Draw from your relationship to determine what they’d most appreciate. Alternatively, put yourself in their shoes. What would you like on Veterans Day? As an active-duty military person or someone with a loved one who serves, your insight and experience may be your best source of direction.
If, however, you want to make Veterans Day extra special this year and from now on, here are a few suggestions:
Donate to a military charity on their behalf
By definition, service members put the interests and betterment of others above themselves. Service is a theme in every branch. As such, you may want to consider submitting a donation to a charitable organization in the name of whomever you seek to pay tribute.
There are lots to choose from, including Wounded Warriors, the USO, Blue Star Families, Operation Gratitude, Fisher House or many others. If you’re looking to give something aside or in addition to money, visit their websites. For example, Fisher House has a link for alternative ways to give back.
Attend a parade
Parades may seem pedestrian, but they’re among the oldest and most time-honored traditions in history. And really — who doesn’t love a great parade? As the late Roy Rogers once said, “We can’t all be heroes; someone has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.”
Check your town or city’s website to see when and where yours is and what time the proceedings are due to begin. You’ll want to be in place before it gets underway.
Plan, prepare and send a care package
The military tends to run in the family; if there is an individual who has since retired, they may have a son or daughter who is in the armed forces. If you know this is the case, their child would likely be thrilled with a care package.
Talk to your veteran; they’ll be able to tell you what their active-duty son or daughter would like to get from back home, be it food, trinkets, apparel, or a combination of all their favorite things. Anything you can do for their family is a roundabout way that you honor them as well. Read our article on tips about what to include.
Support veteran-owned businesses on Veterans Day
What do Sperry Shoes, Sport Clips and Walmart all have in common? All three were started by military veterans. The founders of these organizations represent four of the five branches (Navy, Air Force, Army and Navy, respectively).
While veteran-owned businesses are typically thought of as small — as is the case for most businesses as a whole — there’s a good chance that many of the stores or service centers you frequent are or were veteran-owned.
You can find out by visiting VeteranOwnedBusiness.com. There are more than 35,000 veteran businesses listed there, including those run by military spouses. The site doesn’t maintain an exhaustive list of all American veteran-owned businesses, but you should be able to find several near you.
Send a letter to a different veteran every year
As a military member, you’re part of an elite core of individuals who have seen and been to places in a year that few will ever go in a lifetime. Recounting your time in the service in a handwritten letter is a simple way to show your gratitude for them and connect through shared experiences. It doesn’t have to be long. A simple hello or thank you can mean a great deal. You can make it a yearly ritual or write to someone new each November.
Sometimes the best way to show your appreciation is with sage advice. If you know a veteran who needs money quickly, Omni Financial can set them up with a military loan. We offer personal loans to both active-duty and career-retired veterans with fast access to funds. Our rates are competitive and our service is unparalleled. Contact us to learn more.
The information provided in this blog post is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice. You should consult with a financial professional to determine what may be best for your individual needs.