While Veterans Day is a well-known American holiday, there are a few misconceptions about it — like how it’s spelled or whom exactly it celebrates. To clear some of that up, here are the important facts you should know courtesy of the U.S. Department of Defense.
Veterans Day does not have an apostrophe: Many people think it’s “Veteran’s Day” or “Veterans’ Day,” but they’re wrong. The holiday is not a day that “belongs” to one veteran or multiple veterans, which is what an apostrophe implies. It’s a day for honoring all veterans — so no apostrophe needed.
Veterans Day is not the same as Memorial Day: A lot of Americans get this confused, and we’ll be honest — it can be a little annoying to all of the living veterans out there.
Memorial Day is a time to remember those who gave their lives for our country, particularly in battle or from wounds they suffered in battle.
Veterans Day honors all of those who have served the country in war or peace — dead or alive — although it’s largely intended to thank living veterans for their sacrifices.
Veterans Day began as Armistice Day: World War I officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919. However, the fighting ended about seven months earlier when the Allies and Germany put into effect an armistice on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
For that reason, Nov. 11, 1918, is largely considered the end of “the war to end all wars” and dubbed Armistice Day.
In 1926, Congress officially recognized it as the end of the war, and in 1938, it became an official holiday, primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I.
But then World War II and the Korean War happened, so on June 1, 1954, at the urging of veterans’ service organizations, Congress amended the commemoration yet again by changing the word “armistice” to “veterans,” so the day would honor American veterans of all wars.
For a while, the date of Veterans Day was changed, too, and it confused everybody. While Veterans Day is always celebrated on Nov. 11, under the Uniform Holiday Bill signed by Congress in 1968, the federal holiday can fall on other days, usually a Friday or Monday, depending on where it lands during the week. Our allies Great Britain, Canada and Australia also recognize their veterans on Nov. 11; however, they call it “Remembrance Day.”
We also have our military to thank for some unusual wartime contributions that are now part of our everyday life, including TV dinners, plastic cling film and these surprising culinary innovations:
Restructured meat was pioneered in the 1960s by the Army food lab in Natick, Massachusetts, to lower the military meat bill by gluing together cheap cuts to look like more expensive ones in the new MREs, or Meals Ready to Eat. McDonald’s first used the technology in 1981 to create the McRib.
The U.S. military invented full-fat, tangy orange, powdered dehydrated cheese during World War II. Today, modern cheese dehydrators are used by snack food manufacturers.
Energy bars are the result of an almost a century-long quest for an emergency ration that was light, compact and nutritious. The first modern energy bar was apricot, and was eaten by David Scott on the Apollo 15 space flight.