You may already know that the US celebrates Veterans Day on November 11th, and the day is a national holiday to honor all of our military veterans, but what other countries celebrate veterans with a special day?
While Veterans Day is celebrated every year, it used to be called Armistice Day and was renamed Veterans Day by President Eisenhower in 1954. Veterans Day commemorates veterans of all wars and is known as Remembrance Day in Canada, and Remembrance Sunday in the UK.
In the US, there are 19.2 million veterans, of whcih 1.9 million are women. Almost half of all veterans are over the age of 65. It was President Woodrow Wilson who proclaimed November 11th as Armistace Day in 1919.
Let’s take a look at which other countries celebrate Veterans Day.
Australia & New Zealand
In Australia and New Zealand, the day is known as ANZAC Day and is celebrated on April 25th. The day marks the first major military action from the Army Corps of the two countries during World War One. The troops battled the Ottoman Turks in the battle of Gallipoli, and ANZAC day was first celebrated in 1926. The special day was later expanded to include World War II veterans too.
The day begins at dawn and people reflect on the atrocities of war, remember those who died, and congregate at war memorials.
Get The Flag: Australia
In Canada, Veterans Day is known as Remembrance Day, and it is also a statutory holiday federally as well as a statutory holiday in all three territories and all ten provinces. From 1921-1930, Remembrance Day was celebrated on the same day as Thanksgiving but was moved to November 11th in 1931.
The population gathers at war memorials and cemeteries to remember those who fell to the war. There are often speeches by local council members, songs, prayers, and gun salutes. The day often has a playing of The Last Post on the bugle, and a reading of Ode of Remembrance. It is not unusual to see people wearing red paper poppies on the day, and leading up to the day.
Get The Flag: Canada
In the United Kingdom, the poppy is used as a symbol of those who passed in the war. After the war, it was common to see fields of poppies after the churned land had been left to regrow. Politicians, members of the media, and the public all usually wear fake poppies on their lapels leading up to November 11th, and the proceeds from sold poppies go to veterans. The Royal British Legion distributes the poppies.
Throughout the UK, a two-minute silence is observed at 11 am.
Get The Flag: United Kingdom
Remembrance Day is a public holiday in Bermuda, and the day is marked with a parade of surviving war veterans and the descendants of the deceased. They will often wear full military regalia and medals.
The march begins at 11 am at the Cenotaph and will end in front of Cabinet House. Here, they will lay wreaths and there will be a two-minute silence to remember those who died in the first world war and other wars.
Get The Flag: Bermuda
Armistice Day is commemorated in France with parades through various parts of the country. These parades often pass through main streets and end at local war memorials. Veterans and representatives from the armed forces lay wreaths at the war memorials, including the Ring of Remembrance in Notre Dame and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Paris.
Remembrance Day is a day of reflection for everyone in France, and a one minute silence is held at 11 am. Most businesses are closed for the day, and it is common for most people to wear black or dark colors throughout the day.
Get The Flag: France
In Belgium, Armistice Day is a public holiday that starts with the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate. A bugle is played to remember the veterans, along with everything that they did through the war, and their sacrifices. People will then drop poppies from the top of the gate, poppies signifying rebirth after the war. There will also be a one-minute silence at 11 am.
Most businesses are also closed, and the day is a somber one for most people, with many wearing dark colors to mourn those who died in sacrifice for their country.
Get The Flag: Belgium
In Germany, Veterans Day is known as Volkstrauertag. The day is celebrated on the sunday that is closest to November 16th. All German veterans are honoured, and the day usually starts with the German President and the German Chancellor giving speeches in front of veterans, relatives of veterans, diplomatic corps, and government officials.
The German anthem is played after the speech, followed by traditional German songs. There are then marches with veterans who move towards war memorials and honour thier fallen comrades.
Get The Flag: Germany
The national holiday in the Netherlands, Veteranendag, is celebrated on the last Saturday of June. The day has always been important to the people of the Netherlands but became more important after the country started sending troops to Afghanistan.
The Veterans Day celebration starts with a ceremony at the Hall of Knights, and the King of the Netherlands is always in attendance. There is then a parade towards the Hague, where veterans and members of the public convene at the Malieveld.
Get The Flag: The Netherlands
Nigeria was once a part of the British Commonwealth and would celebrate Veterans Day on November 11th. More recently, Nigeria has moved Veterans Day to January 15th and honors those who died in the Nigerian Civil War, a war that ended in 1970.
Get The Flag: Nigeria
Isreal have celebrated Yom Hazikaron since 1963. Yom Hazikaron translates to ‘Day of the Memory,’ and is the day when they remember all of the fallen troops who have died in wars, terrorist attacks, and politically-motivated violence.
The day is traditionally held on the 5th of Ivar, a month in the Hebrew Calendar, but will be moved a day or two if the day falls on Shabbat.
Get The Flag: Israel
Italy celebrates and remembers the sacrifices of its veterans with a day that marks the end of World War One. Italy spent the bulk of the war fighting the Austro-Hungarian Empires, and the day of peace at the end of the war is different to that of other countries. The end of the war for Italy, and their Veterans, was November 4th, but they celebrate in much the same way as everyone else does on November 11th.
Get The Flag: Italy
In Norway, Veterans Day is known as Veterandagen. The day is celebrated on May 8th, the day that World War II ended. This day of victory is also known as Europe Day in some places. This national celebration is a more recent one, and only started being celebrated in 2011.
Get The Flag: Norway
In Sweden, the celebration is not only to honor those who sacrificed in World War One and the other wars that came after, but also to honor those who joined the UN Peacekeepers. The day is celebrated every year on May 29th and is marked with a massive ceremony in Stockholm, the nation’s capital. Not only is it traditional for veterans and family members to attend, but the Swedish Royal Family will attend too.
Get The Flag: Sweden
Denmark was a neutral country during World War One, so it does not share the same Veterans Day as most other countries. It does, however, have Flag Day, the name of their Veterans Day, and that is celebrated on September 5th. The day remembers and honors the living and dead troops from any of their conflicts.
Get The Flag: Denmark
In Ireland, Remembrance Day is not a national holiday. The Remembrance Day service is marked by a ceremony at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. The President of Ireland attends, and the Irish soldiers who served in the British Army during World War One are honored and comemorated. There is also the National War Memorial Gardens in Dublin where many people visit on this day. The gardens are dedicated to the memory of the 49,400 Irish soldiers who were killed during World War One.
The people of Ireland also honor all Irish men and women who have died in any wars with the National Day of Commemoration in July.
Get The Flag: Ireland
Veterans Day is an important holiday in the US and one where we can all honor the veterans who lived through the wars and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
Because war is not confined to any one country, there is almost no country that does not honor and remember those lost to war. Each country has their own way of celebrating, but there are a lot of similarities too.
Many countries celebrate on November 11th, parades and war memorials are an integral part of the day, and poppies are used worldwide as a symbol of sacrifice.
So, on November 11th, join those across the country, and around the world, in celebrating and honoring those who strived to make the world a better place, no matter what the cost was.