Veterans Day in the Classroom
While I hate to admit this, I never paid much attention to the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day until I became a teacher. Veterans Day, which is November 11 every year, is a national holiday reserved to celebrate all U.S. Military Veterans. (Memorial Day, on the other hand, is to honor those who passed away serving in an American war.) Teaching about Veterans Day is important, but it doesn’t have to be a ton of work. Here are some ideas to help you integrate Veterans Day into your week.
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All About Veterans Day:
The first Veterans Day celebration was on November 11, 1919, which was the first anniversary of the end of World War I. At this time, the holiday was called Armistice Day. In 1938, the day officially became a nationally observed holiday. The name of the holiday was changed by President Eisenhower in 1954 so that it would honor the veterans who served in all American wars rather than only WWI. The Uniform Monday Holiday Act went into effect in 1971, making Veterans Day the fourth Monday in November. However, by 1975 President Ford moved Veterans Day back to November 11 because of the important meaning the date had for our country.
Veterans Day Facts:
Here are some interesting facts about the holiday we know as Veterans Day:
- World War I originally ended on the eleventh day of November (the eleventh month) at the eleventh hour.
- As of 2017, there were 18.8 million veterans, which was about 7.6% of the population living in the United States.
o 91.6% of them were male
o 49.5% of them were 65 years of age or older
o 33.2% of them served during the Vietnam era
o CA, FL, and TX had the most veterans, with more than 1 million residing in each of the three states.
- France, Britain, Canada, and Australia also celebrate the veterans of World War I and II on or near November 11th.
- There is a wreath-laying ceremony held at Tomb of the Unknowns in the Arlington Cemetery at 11 am every year. You can see last year’s ceremony HERE.
- TRIVIA ALERT: Even though many people spell it Veteran’s or Veterans’ Day, there is not supposed to be an apostrophe in the name of the holiday.
Teaching about Veterans Day:
Take the time before this holiday approaches to educate your class about what Veterans Day is and why we celebrate it. I have posted some resources below along with some book recommendations.
Resources for Teaching about Veterans Day:
I have Veterans Day differentiated reading passages available for 2nd-4th grade. They contain three differentiated reading levels and question sets.
My Top 3 Veterans Day Book Picks:
Looking for some books to share with your students? Here are my top 3 Veteran’s Day Picks:
- America’s White Table by Margot Theis Raven, explains the symbolism behind the little-known tradition of setting “the white table” on Veterans Day. The story is told in a relatable way by a ten-year-old little girl. The illustrations are captivating. This book is best for 2nd-5th grade.
- The Poppy Lady by Barbara Elizabeth Walsh is the story of how Moina Belle Michael worked to establish the red poppy as the symbol to honor and remember soldiers. Thanks to Moina, this symbol still holds a strong meaning for Veterans today.
- Grandad Bud A Veterans Day Story by Sharon Ferry is a story about a young boy’s great-grandfather who comes to his school to talk about Veterans Day. This story explains what Veterans Day is in a child-friendly way. This book is probably best suited for 1st-3rd graders.
I hope you enjoy your day off while honoring those who have made sacrifices for our freedom!