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10 Things to Do and Say on Veterans Day

Veterans Day: We know it’s an important day, but we can often feel at a loss for how to celebrate it. Don’t worry, Primerrily is here to guide you through it. We’re so glad you care!

First, let’s talk a little bit about the day, where it came from, and why we celebrate. Veterans Day is a day set aside to honor and celebrate military veterans: anyone who has served in the United States Armed Forces. It’s a federal holiday in the United States that -- to us -- deserves more attention than it gets. It’s celebrated annually on November 11 because on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month of 1918, World War I hostilities ceased between the Allied Powers and Germany. Known originally as Armistice Day, November 11 was meant to celebrate world peace and the end of the first World War. In 1926, the U.S. Congress officially recognized it with a resolution. Less than two decades later, World War II broke out and peace was no more. In 1954, Congress changed the name to Veterans Day, and later that year President Eisenhower, who himself served as the Supreme Allied Commander during WWII and is one of only five five-star U.S. generals ever to serve, issued the first Veterans Day proclamation.

Now, how to observe it? When you grasp the import of the day, you can feel paralyzed over how best to demonstrate one’s gratitude, especially if you don’t have a service member in your immediate family. However, know that you can remember, teach, and take action on Veterans Day in so many ways.


1. Put out an American flag

Hang a flag outside your home. Don’t have a flagpole? Put some flags in the ground. This activity is great for little kids. You can sing American songs as you do it and talk about why Veterans Day is important to remember.

Order "Made in USA" American flags that are the right size for you (4X6 pack of 48, 4X6 pack of 12, 8X12 pack of 24, 8x12 pack of 12, 12X18 pack of 12)


2. Draw a "V" on your hand...

We learned about this one from USAA, a financial services group for people and families who serve, or served, in the United States Armed Forces. You can participate in the #HonorThroughAction challenge: Draw a "V" on your hand; write the initials of a veteran you want to honor inside the "V"; take a photo of your hand and/or your kids' hands; and post your photo on social media with the hashtag #HonorThroughAction.


3. Express your family’s thanks in words and pictures -- and remember veterans’ family members too!

Visit Primerrily’s Veteran Pinterest Board to find some great inspiration and printables for your kids to send veterans. You don’t have to know a veteran personally -- we’re confident that the nursing homes near you have veterans living there who would love to receive mail -- including notes or drawings -- during these especially isolating COVID times. It can be hard even for grown-ups to figure out what to say to a veteran. “Thank you for your service” is always good when said sincerely, and if you’re looking for some more words to express, check out those below. And don’t be shy about sharing a kind word with a veteran’s spouse, children, or caregiver. Service is a team effort, and whole families shoulder the burden of preserving our country’s freedoms.

-Excuse me sir, I just wanted to say I saw you wearing that ball cap, and I really appreciate your giving yourself to the service of our country.

-I really respect you, ma’am. I can’t imagine the risks you had to take and the sacrifices you had to make to protect our country. Thank you.

-You are a great example to me. You chose to put our country before

yourself, to defend all that America stands for. Thank you.

-You signed up to risk your life for us and for freedom. Wow. Thank you.

-Thank you for protecting my freedom to ___________.


4. Share your leftover Halloween candy with veterans through Operation Gratitude

Operation Gratitude (OG) is on a mission to thank every military member in uniform who serves or has served our nation. Since 2003, OG has sent 2,445,725 care packages. And with the Global War on Terrorism -- our nation's longest war -- still being fought, over 200,000 service members continue to deploy annually. A veteran friend of Primerrily said one of the most precious care packages he received while overseas on active duty was from OG. Let's continue to send packages and to support our American heroes! Package up some of your leftover candy, toss in some supplies from this list, and add some thank you cards (see #2). Adults can write notes and children can dictate words of appreciation to parent scribes. Drawing pictures and coloring sheets are encouraged!


5. Donate a wreath and sign up for Wreaths Across America

Wreaths Across America (WAA) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to remember our fallen U.S. veterans, honor those who serve, and teach your children the value of freedom. WAA coordinates wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery as well as at more than 2,100 additional locations in all 50 U.S. states, at sea, and abroad. You can join by sponsoring a veteran’s wreath at a cemetery near you or volunteering. On December 19th, tens of thousands of Americans will volunteer to lay privately donated wreaths on the graves of service members at veterans’ cemeteries. Join Primerrily families as they participate in this solemn annual tradition. We also love this practice: donate a wreath to a veterans cemetery and gift a wreath to a service member still living. It makes for a great Veterans Day or holiday gift. You can also find WAA's curriculum for teaching kids about the importance of wreath laying here.

The image that went viral in 2015 and inspired the start to Wreaths Across America

You can "give a wreath, get a wreath." By sponsoring a Patriot Pair, a donated veteran’s wreath will be placed at one of more than 2,100 participating cemeteries across the nation. A second purchased wreath with branch flag will be sent to the address of your choice.


6. Watch this five-minute video on why our American military deserves our respect and -- the Nobel Peace Prize

"They’ve saved the free world more than once. And they’re on the job preserving the peace right now. When it comes to making the world a more secure place for good and decent people everywhere, this one group deserves the bulk of the credit. Who is this group, and how can we ever thank them? Pete Hegseth, U.S. Army Major, has the answer."


7. Read Veterans: Heroes in our Neighborhood with your kids!

"Author Valerie Pfundstein and Illustrator Aaron Anderson are the creators of Veterans: Heroes in our Neighborhood. A Mom’s Choice Awards winner in Honoring Excellence, the rhyming words and vibrant illustrations within the pages of Veterans draw in little kids, big kids, and grown-up readers alike. Beyond poetry and pictures, this book tells the story of a boy whose dad explains the everyday and unexpected places the humble “heroes in our neighborhood” continue to support us in our communities." Check out more about the book here.


8. Show sensitivity toward veterans for whom this is not an easy day to be remembered

"Most service members don’t seek the spotlight. They do what they do because they love serving their country, not because they love receiving attention for it. . . I know there are many veterans who prefer not to be highlighted. I know because I’m the daughter of one. My father served in the Army Special Forces as a Green Beret in Vietnam and now is 100% disabled as a result. For many reasons I respect, he prefers to stay out of the spotlight." You can learn more about supporting and respecting our humble heroes here.


9. Wear celebratory clothing to show your support for veterans.

There are many ways to "wear your support on your sleeve". . . or on hats or tees! We suggest you take a look at the many ways to dress for this special holiday in The Primerrily Shop, where you'll find Veteran-appreciating apparel for all who have served our country with honor and bravery.


10. Read aloud these notable Veterans Day speeches, with transcripts below

  • Excerpt from President Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, 1865

  • Congress’s first recognition of November 11th, 1926

  • President Eisenhower’s first Veterans Day Proclamation, 1954

Excerpt from President Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, 1865

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Primerrily takeaway: In short, we must care for the people -- and their families -- who help protect our country. The goal is to seek peace, not just between us and other countries, but also between all Americans. These are big words that you’ll have to unpack for your kids, but we’re confident that you can do it, Primerrily Parent!

Read the full address here.

Congress’s first recognition of November 11th, 1926

Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and

Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and

Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.

Primerrily takeaway: Remember the day with thanksgiving and prayer; display the flag, observe the day in school and in houses of worship.

Excerpt from President Eisenhower’s first Veteran’s Day Proclamation

"In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee … I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible."

Primerrily takeaway: Veterans Day is a BIG deal. All the heads of all the departments of the Executive Branch (That’s a long list! See: "Executive Departments") are called on to help plan a widespread observance, not to mention “the entire citizenry.” Now, let's each do our part!

Source: History of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Administration