American Holidays: Veterans Day

Contributor: Meghan Vestal. Lesson ID: 11637

While most holidays celebrate known individuals and events, there is one holiday that honors the living and the dead, the known and the unknown! Design your own monumental tribute to unknown soldiers!


Social Studies

Social Studies
learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


What is a veteran? It's not a person who works with sick animals, nor is it someone who eats only vegetables. Learn why veterans are so important and deserve their own day!

A veteran is a person who has served in the military.

In the United States, the military consists of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. Unlike Memorial Day that honors only those who were killed during military service, Veterans Day is a day to honor all of those who have served in the military. Do you know someone who should be celebrated on Veterans Day? Tell your teacher or parent.

If you have not yet worked on all the previous Related Lessons in this American Holidays series, catch up in the right-hand sidebar!

On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month in 1918, something historic happened. The opposing sides of World War I reached an armistice, an agreement to stop fighting. Although a treaty would not be signed between the two sides for several months, November 11, 1918, became an historic day as one of the deadliest wars in all of history came to an end.

On November 11, 1919, President Wilson called the date Armistice Day and said the day should be for remembering the Americans who served in the war. Throughout the country, parades were held and a moment of silence was called for at 11 a.m. By 1926, 27 states had declared November 11 to be a state holiday, and Congress was encouraged to make it a federal holiday. In the summer of 1926, Congress agreed to the request. November 11 was made Armistice Day, and Americans were encouraged to use the day for prayer and reflection, both for those who had served during World War I, and to promote ongoing peace throughout the world.

Armistice Day remained until the 1950s. After World War II and the Korean War, veterans groups began asking Congress to change Armistice Day to commemorate all those who had served in the military. In 1954, President Eisenhower — who was also a World War II veteran — officially declared that November 11 would be changed from Armistice Day to Veterans Day in honor of all who had served the country.

In 1971, the holiday saw a change again when the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was passed, moving Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October to provide a three-day weekend for federal workers, and to prevent work absenteeism. This date shift only lasted a few years because many Americans protested the change. World War I was the first major global war the United States had been a part of, and November 11 was a significant date for many. In 1978, Veterans Day was officially moved back to November 11, no matter what day of the week it fell on.

Today, Veterans Day is celebrated with parades and patriotic festivities. Some people are given time off work and school. Schools that are still in session usually hold a Veterans Day assembly or patriotic activities throughout the day. Many national cemeteries — cemeteries where fallen soldiers are laid to rest — hold wreath-laying ceremonies. Many stores and restaurants honor those who have served in the military by giving discounts to veterans and their families on Veterans Day.

Do you and your family do anything to commemorate Veterans Day? If so, tell your teacher or parent.

Now, move on to the Got It? section to learn more about Veterans Day.

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