In anticipation of the 20th annual Phoenix Veterans Day Parade on November 11, here are a few interesting – and some little-known – facts about Veterans Day and veterans. How many did you already know?
- According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there are over 23 million war veterans living in the United States.
- Veterans over the age of 65 number 9.2 million, while 1.9 million are under the age of 35.
- Female veterans number 1.8 million.
- Veterans who served during the Vietnam War era (1964-1975) number 7.8 million, which represents 33 percent of all living veterans.
- Veterans who served during the Gulf War (representing service from Aug. 2, 1990, to present) number 5.2 million.
- Veterans who served during World War II (1941-1945) number 2.6 million.
- Veterans who served during the Korean War (1950-1953) number 2.8 million.
- Six million veterans served in peacetime.
- Five states have more than one million veterans in their population: California (2.1 million), Florida (1.7 million), Texas (1.7 million), New York (one million) and Pennsylvania (one million).
- Veterans more likely to vote: 14.7 million veterans voted in the 2012 presidential election. That’s 70 percent of all veterans.
- Veterans Day was originally called “Armistice Day.” Originally on November 11, 1919, it was the first anniversary of the end of World War I and was originally established to honor veterans of World War I, but now it extends to all veterans. Congress made it a national holiday in 1938 and renamed it Veterans Day in 1954.
- In 1968, the Uniform Holidays Bill was passed by Congress, which moved the celebration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. The law went into effect in 1971, but in 1975 President Ford returned Veterans Day to November 11, due to the important historical significance of the date.
- The song “God Bless America” debuted on the radio for Veterans Day in 1938. Although Irving Berlin wrote it in 1918, it was another 20 years before he changed the lyrics and turned it into the patriotic ballad we now know. It debuted as part of an Armistice Day radio special on November 10, the day before Veterans Day, and was performed by “The First Lady of Radio,” Kate Smith. She became best known for her rendition of this song.
- The motto of the Department of Veterans Affairs is a quote from Abraham Lincoln. “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan” is from the final paragraph of Lincoln’s second inaugural address.
- Britain, France, Australia and Canada also commemorate the veterans of World Wars I and II on or near November 11th: Canada has Remembrance Day, while Britain has Remembrance Sunday (the second Sunday or November). In Europe, Britain and the Commonwealth countries, it is common to observe two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. every November 11.
- Every year on Veterans Day, at exactly 11 a.m., a wreath-laying ceremony is held at the Tomb of the Unknowns in the Arlington National Cemetery.
- The first Veterans Day parade was held in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1947 and remains an annual tradition there.
We hope you will join us at the 20th Annual Phoenix Veterans Day Parade on November 11, 2016, to see Celebrity Grand Marshal Pete Hegseth and all eight Veteran Grand Marshals. This year’s parade theme is “Welcome Home Vietnam Heroes.” The parade typically boasts more than 100 entries, and this year will have a special float with nearly 20 Vietnam Veterans riding on it. The parade will also feature patriotic floats, high school marching bands, JROTC marching units, color guards, Veterans Service Organizations, animals, novelty units and much, much more.
For more information on the parade and the parade route, click HERE.