Veterans Day, observed every year on November 11th, is a day for honoring all of our American veterans, living or dead. Towns and cities throughout the U.S. will be having Veterans Day celebrations and parades, and Bend is no exception.
A Little History and a Few Facts
Veterans Day was originally known as Armistice Day, and was, as Congress declared in 1926, “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace.” In 1945, a WWII vet from Alabama named Raymond Weeks led the way in a successful effort to change the holiday to a celebration of all veterans. The name was officially changed to Veterans Day in 1954.
Veterans Day honors all U.S. military veterans (dead or alive), while Memorial Day (observed in May) honors military personnel who died while serving their country, and Armed Forces Day (also in May) celebrates military personnel currently serving in the military.
It’s an amazing thing to think about, but over 16 million Americans served in WWII. That’s four times the population of the entire state of Oregon! Right now, there are about 21 million veterans in the country, which is about 6.5% of the population. Lastly, and perhaps most unfortunately, 11% of all homeless adults are veterans.
Ways to Celebrate Veterans Day
Whether there will be a Veterans Day parade in Bend this year or not still hasn’t been determined. But, if there is another parade cancellation, just sit back in the comfy living area in your vacation rental with a local brew or two and watch a few Bend Veterans Day parades from previous years on YouTube. You can also livestream the Virtual National Veterans Day Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. It begins at 11am when a wreath is placed on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and ceremonies continue on from there.
It’s called the Veterans Day Moment of Silence, and it’s actually a law. The nation officially observes two minutes of silence at 2:11 EST on Veterans Day. Take the time out of your day of hiking or skiing (depending on the weather) to reflect on all the men and women who have served our country. It’s an easy thing to do.
Celebrate Living Veterans
If you’ve got any living veterans in your life, celebrate them! If you don’t, adopt a veteran or two or even a family for the day!
If there is a veteran in your life, bring them along on your vacation! Or have a live chat with them during the day. Text them. Mail them a card or letter. Send them a gift card to their favorite restaurant or shop. Take them out to lunch. What you do doesn’t matter as much as just doing something.
Don’t know any living veterans personally? There are several local veterans’ organizations here in Bend: the COVO, (Coastal Oregon Veterans Outreach), the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) and there are three area American Legion Posts in town too. Any one of these groups are sure to have a list of veterans who can benefit from a visit or a lunch out on the town.
COVO has a program to help keep veterans (and others) “Warm, Fed and Dry.” You can make a monetary donation or drop a backpack filled with items from the COVO wish list (which is conveniently posted on Amazon) or buy a few vets at VFW Post 1643 Ponderosa Pine Post lunch at the post bar.
It’s easy to make a card or write a letter of appreciation for the military service members and veterans and drop them off at one of the local veterans associations. Get the kids involved with this one.
Sadly, we lose about twenty veterans each day from suicide. Make the commitment to show your appreciation in a way that matters. Participate in the VA’s #BeThere campaign. Just something simple like that card your kids made can make a difference. “No Veteran Left Behind.”
Celebrate Veterans Who Have Given Their Lives
Start your Veterans Day celebration with an early visit to one of the area cemeteries – Deschutes Memorial Gardens, Pilot Butte Cemetery, and Greenwood Cemetery. Memorial Day may be known for the installation of American flags at veterans’ graves, but you can do that on Veterans Day too. Or buy some bright red poppies to drop on the graves.
Wear the Colors
Today is the day to wear that flag pin or a red poppy. Let the kids get crafty and put together some flag and poppy pins for everyone to wear. And make sure to wear red, white, and blue. Looking for some more Veterans Day celebration ideas? Give us call! Our staff will know what’s going on locally, and can suggest a few good lunch spots to take a veteran or two.