Veterans Day is a national holiday that honors all American veterans of all wars, both living and dead. It is celebrated every year on November 11, which is the anniversary of the armistice (a formal agreement of warring parties to stop fighting) that ended World War I in 1918.
The holiday was originally called Armistice Day, but it was changed to Veterans Day in 1954 to include veterans of World War II and the Korean War.
Don’t confuse this day with Memorial Day, which is a separate holiday honoring those who died while serving in the military.
Veterans Day is a day to express gratitude and appreciation to the men and women who have served and sacrificed for their country. It is also a day to remember the history and legacy of the U.S. military and its role in the world.
About American Veterans
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there were about 18.5 million living veterans in the United States in 20211. This number is expected to decline to 13.6 million by 2030.
The number of living veterans varies by the period of military service and the war they participated in. Based on the population estimates for 2023, here are some statistics about the U.S. veteran population by war:
- 7.8 million living U.S. vets, or 43%, served in the Gulf War era, which spans from August 1990 to the present.
- 5.6 million living vets, or 30%, served during the Vietnam War era, which lasted from 1950 to 1973.
- Around 767,000 vets, or 4%, served during the Korean War, which took place from 1950 to 1953.
- Fewer than 120,000 World War II vets, or less than 1%, are alive today. They fought in the war from 1939 to 1945.
- Some served in other periods of war, such as the Spanish-American War, the Civil War, and the American Revolution, but their numbers are very small and hard to estimate.
Some common ways to celebrate and honor include attending parades, ceremonies, and concerts; visiting memorials and cemeteries; flying the American flag; and thanking a veteran for their service.
To our associates, colleagues, and friends who have served, we thank you for your service to our great nation, the United States of America.
Learn more about Veterans Day from the VA.
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