Chances are there is a military veteran in your family or you know one. Today, as I was reflecting on the tremendous sacrifices these men and women have made for all of us, I decided to learn more about the holiday itself, which was first called Armistice Day.
In 1954, the holiday became known as Veterans Day when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation making it so in order to honor veterans of all U.S. wars.
In 1921, the United States laid to rest the remains of a World War I American soldier — his name “known but to God” – in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on a hillside overlooking Washington, D.C. It became known as the “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” and was meant to symbolize reverence for the American veteran. Today it is known as the “Tomb of the Unknowns.”
At the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington Cemetery, at 11 a.m. each Nov. 11, a color guard composed of members of each of the military branches renders honors to America’s war dead. The U.S. president or a representative places a wreath at the tomb and a bugler sounds taps.
21.8 million – The number of military veterans in the United States in 2010.
1.6 million –The number of female veterans in 2010.
2.4 million – The number of black veterans in 2010.
9 million – The number of veterans 65 and older in 2010. At the other end of the age spectrum, 1.7 million were younger than 35.
When They Served
7.6 million – Number of Vietnam-era veterans in 2010. Thirty-five percent of all living veterans served during this time (1964-1975). In addition, 4.8 million served during the Gulf War (representing service from Aug. 2, 1990, to present); 2.1 million in World War II (1941-1945); 2.6 million in the Korean War (1950-1953); and 5.5 million in peacetime only.
49,500 – Number of living veterans in 2010 who served during the Vietnam era and both Gulf War eras and no other period. Other living veterans in 2010 who served during three wars:
54,000 served during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam era.
Living veterans in 2010 who served during two wars and no other period:
837,000 served during both Gulf War eras.
211,000 served during both the Korean War and the Vietnam era.
147,000 served during both World War II and the Korean War.