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What is a Veteran?

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Veterans at the Hero Tree at the Rensselaer Library in 2013.

What is a Veteran?  A veteran is someone who has served in the Armed Forces of the United States. We honor those who served to protect us and other countries every November 11.

Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans who served their county honorably during war or peacetime.

Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919 on the first anniversary of the end of World War I also known as “The Great War.” President Woodrow Wilson signed the proclamation and it was official.

It wasn’t until 1926 that Congress made it an annual observance.  On May 13, 1938 Congress passed an act making it a legal Federal holiday dedicated to world peace.

After World War II and the Korean War, Congress amended the Act of 1938 by inserting the word “Veterans” instead of “Armistice.” So in 1954 President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the legislation making it a day to honor all veterans.

In the 1970s Congress changed the day of observance to the fourth Monday in October.  After much discussion and confusion, President Gerald R. Ford changed it back to November 11.

Britain, France, Australia and Canada also celebrate Veterans Day or Remembrance Day on or around November 11 to honor those who served in World War I and World War II.

Veterans Day gives everyone the opportunity to celebrate the bravery and sacrifice of all United States Veterans. Take the time on this day to stop and thank a Veteran.