United States of AmericaVeterans Day is a public holiday in the United States which pays homage to the Armed Forces veterans. While many people confuse it with Memorial Day, it represents Nov. 11th, the signing of the Armistice between the Allied Powers and Germany. As such, it is one of the most celebrated days in America and an excellent opportunity for its citizens to show appreciation for their veterans. Activities range from military exhibitions, parades, charity concerts for veterans, professional sports games around the country, and the official ceremony at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.
In the United Kingdom, the occasion is called Remembrance Day. It is celebrated starting in October and culminates on Nov. 11th at 11:00. The poppy flower symbolizes the events leading to this distinguished day. The Royal British Legion performs the distribution of poppies, and the poppy is seen everywhere, from soccer matches to kindergartens. The moment of silence is observed for two minutes at 11:00 on Nov. 11th.
Similarly, Canada celebrates Remembrance Day on November 11th of each year which is also a federal statutory holiday; not all provinces and territories are obliged to apply it, but most of them do. The name is not Veterans Day because the day is also dedicated to the fallen rather than just living warriors. Due to Canada’s ties with Great Britain as a Commonwealth country, it uses similar traditions. The wearing of a poppy is its trademark flower in remembrance of the heroes, and it is one way Canadians show their pride. Parades and other events are organized across the country, and tribute is paid in cenotaphs and war memorials in addition to the two minutes of silence at 1100 hours on the same date.
AlbaniaThe veterans who fought against the Fascist forces in World War II celebrate Veterans Day on Jul. 20th in Albania. The day is marked by visiting Partisan Monuments and paying homage to the fallen from the last world war. The Veteran’s Association is responsible for organizing celebrations and events and is decentralized around the country. Veterans Day officially became an officially-recognized day when the law entered into effect in 2019; however, it is not a national holiday.
Armistice Day in France commemorates the treaty signed 80 km from Paris, in La Francport, near Compiegne. This memorable day for France is celebrated around the country with parades and wreath-laying at war memorials. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Paris, inaugurated on Armistice Day of 1920, is the culmination of the day where veterans, state officials, and citizens join in commemorating the day. Like the United Kingdom, France also observes two minutes of silence on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
The Ministry of Patriots and Veterans is in charge of the celebrations of Veterans Day in South Korea. Since 1956, on Oct. 8th, citizens and state officials have paid tribute to war memorials around the country. The sacrifices of veterans and liberation patriots culminate with an official state ceremony at the Seoul National Cemetery.
Nigeria celebrates its Armed Forces Remembrance Day on Jan. 15th, and it is instead dedicated to those who gave their lives for the country. The date relates to the year 1970 when Federal troops defeated the Biafran forces, which led to their surrender in the bloody civil war. The event is marked by many military and civilian activities such as parades, shooting competitions, religious services (Muslim and Christian), and the placing of wreaths. In the past, Remembrance Day was celebrated on Nov. 11th in Nigeria due to the country previously being part of the British Commonwealth, but this is no longer the case.
In Germany, the Sunday nearest to Nov. 16th is Volkstrauertag (meaning People’s Day of Mourning). The holiday dates back to 1883, while the current celebrations started in 1948 in West Germany. The day is officially marked at the Bundestag when the President and Chancellor of the Federal Republic address the German and foreign dignitaries. Following the speeches, the National Anthem is played, followed by the historic and sorrowful German song “Ich hatt’ einen Kameraden” (I had a Comrade). Around the country, veterans, who served in a formerly divided Germany and those who served after reunification, march on war memorials and lay wreaths for the fallen.
Indonesia, one of the countries with the largest population globally, adopted a National Veterans Day in 2014. Aug. 10th is marked annually and originates to the Indonesian War of Independence from the Netherlands in 1949 when the Indonesian National Revolutionaries launched an offensive. The day commemorates Surakarta’s recapture and honors all the people who fought for Indonesian Independence.
The celebrations occur on Aug. 10th every year, and the Veterans’ Legion of Indonesia organizes most events.
Regardless of the veterans’ origin, they represent their nation’s struggles and pride. While, in some cases, they may have served on opposing sides, they have also shared mutual respect, which paved the way for peace between their nations.
In 1905, the European philosopher, George Santayana, wrote the famous quote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Therefore, it is the responsibility of current and future generations to remember the veterans. Remembering those who sacrificed their youth in battles, today’s youth can grow old in a peaceful and prosperous world.
As an airborne active and veteran community, you also have many reasons to be proud and share the responsibility to convey the importance of Veterans Day with current and future generations.
Photo Courtesy 82nd Airborne Division