Veterans Day started on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

Actually, the holiday was first called Armistice Day, declared to mark the end of World War I hostilities at 11 a.m., Nov. 11, 1918 .Congress gave it that name in 1926, though it didn’t become a national holiday for a dozen more years.

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.

Veterans Day was moved to the fourth Monday in October in 1968 by Congress, but that was reversed in 1978 when it became obvious that Americans wanted the holiday celebrated Nov. 11.

Veterans Day is often confused with Memorial Day because they are similar in intent, but not identical. Memorial Day honors America’s war dead, while Veterans Day honors all American veterans, living and dead, and has a special emphasis on thanking living veterans for their service to the country.

Other facts about the holiday:

*There is no apostrophe in Veterans Day.

*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 -- today it was Vice President Joe Biden -- places a wreath at the tomb and a bugler sounds taps.

Here are some other facts, courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau:


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.

Additionally, 1.2 million veterans were Hispanic; 265,000 were Asian; 156,000 were American Indian or Alaska Native; 28,000 were Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander; and 17.5 million were non-Hispanic white. (The numbers for blacks, Asians, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders, and non-Hispanic whites cover only those reporting a single race.)

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.


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.

Where They Live


Number of states with 1 million or more veterans in 2010. These states were California (2 million), Florida (1.6 million) and Texas (1.6 million).


Percent of people 18 and older in Alaska who were veterans in 2010. The percent of the 18 and older population who were veterans was 12 percent or more in Maine, Montana, Virginia and Wyoming.



Percent of veterans 25 and older with at least a bachelor’s degree in 2010. In comparison, 28 percent of the total population had a bachelor’s degree or higher.


Percent of veterans 25 and older with a high school diploma or higher in 2010, compared with 86 percent of the population as a whole.



Annual median income of veterans, in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars, compared with $25,605 for the population as a whole.

On the Job

9.6 million

Number of veterans 18 to 64 in the labor force in 2010.



Percent of veterans for whom poverty status is determined with a disability in 2010.

3.4 million

Number of veterans with a service-connected disability rating. Of this number, 698,000 have a rating of 70 percent or higher. Severity of one’s disability is scaled from 0 to 100 percent and eligibility for compensation depends on one’s rating.


15.8 million

Number of veterans who voted in the 2008 presidential election. Seventy-one percent of veterans cast a ballot in the presidential election.

12.4 million

Number of veterans who voted in the 2010 congressional election. Fifty-seven percent of veterans voted in the 2010 congressional election.


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