Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, U.S. Navy, speaks with Army 2nd Lt. Brandy Mason at the III Corps Headquarters at Fort Hood, Texas, on Nov. 10, 2009. Image Credit: Department of Defense; Wikimedia Commons

On Veterans Day, we at Just Security always try to take a moment to reflect. As with other holidays, we do a bit of research into the origins and significance of the day, in order to pull out some themes and ideas to think about during our celebrations.

Veterans Day, in contrast to Memorial Day, is a day “largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service” to show that “all those who served – not only those who died – have sacrificed and done their duty.” Up until 1954, Veterans Day was known as Armistice Day, a day intended as a celebration of world peace and a commemoration of the veterans who served in the First World War. That’s why we celebrate on November 11th: to honor the armistice with Germany at the end of World War I, which went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. But in the wake of the Second World War, which required an even greater military mobilization than the First, veterans groups urged Congress to change the name of Armistice day to recognize the service of all of America’s veterans. That’s how we arrived at “Veterans Day.”

We are a site that focuses extensively on legal and policy issues that have major impacts on the lives of veterans and their families. And today, we’re taking time to reflect on not just the important legal and policy issues, but these individuals whose lives are directly affected by them.