Six Facts About Veterans Day
Today is Veterans Day and it's intended to honor all veterans past and present, dead and alive who have served both in war and peacetime. Here are a few things you may not know about today.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there are 22 million veterans living in the U.S. Here's how they break down: 1.7 million from WWII, 2.2 million from the Korean War, 7.3 million from Vietnam, 5 million from Iraq and Afghanistan and 500 thousand from Desert Storm.
It was originally called Armistice Day, as November 11, 1919 was the first anniversary of the end of WWI. Armistice Day was intended to honor veterans of that war, but now it extends to all veterans from all wars. Congress passed a bill that made Armistice Day a national holiday in 1938 and it was officially changed to Veterans Day in 1954.
Irving Berlin wrote the song in 1918, but it was 20 years later that he changed the lyrics and turned it into the song we know today. It also debuted as a part of an Armistice Day radio special on November 10, the day before Armistice Day.
In 1918, a Georgia woman named Moina Belle Michael read a John McCrae poem called In Flanders Fields. The poem includes the line In Flanders fields the poppies blow/Between the crosses row on row and it inspired her wear red poppies in remembrance. (Flanders Fields is a WWI battleground and cemetery in Belgium.)
The motto, "To care for him who shall have borne the battle" is from the final paragraph of Abraham Lincoln's inaugural address.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census statistics, 71% of veterans voted in the 2008 Presidential election. That compares with 63% of non-veterans who went to the polls.