Commentary

Veterans Day should be truly celebrated in the same ways as other federal holidays

Schools are still in session. Most people still have to work. Why? Veterans Day should be celebrated with more time for reflection, writes guest columnist Nick Jezierny.

November 12, 2021 3:59 am
American and POW flags

Let’s give Veterans Day and Election Day the respect they deserve with a federal holiday that celebrates both, writes guest columnist Nick Jezierny. (Courtesy of Pixabay)

As I scrolled through my social media feeds Thursday, I saw an outpouring of support for United States veterans. 

Friends posted photos of parents and relatives who served, and many veterans changed their profile pictures to their service photos. And, of course, there is the awesome tradition of restaurants and bars offering a free drink or entrée to those who served our country.

All of this makes me wonder – why is Veterans Day not afforded the same holiday status and benefits as Independence Day or Memorial Day?

Those holidays get three-day weekends and massive celebrations. Heck, even Labor Day is a three-day weekend. 

Veterans Day doesn’t get those perks. Instead, schools are in session and most people have to work, even veterans! One can argue that the manufactured shopping holiday of Black Friday gets more respect than Veterans Day. That doesn’t seem right, because it isn’t right.

Our veterans are Americans who put their country and duty before themselves. In the process, they protected our democracy along with the lifestyle, freedoms and privileges that come with it. One of those privileges is voting, which if you look at the turnout for the most recent election, was abysmal.

That got me thinking. Why can’t Veterans Day and Election Day become one full-on, celebrated federal holiday?

Both currently are “celebrated” in November. I’m sure former President Woodrow Wilson – the creator of Armistice Day (the precursor to Veterans Day) – wouldn’t roll over in his grave if the date was changed. Nov. 11 was selected because it was the day World War I ended. But since U.S. veterans have fought in many wars after WWI, the Nov. 11 date isn’t as significant as what it represents.

Veterans Day parades and fireworks shows could happen. Most people would have the day off, which would allow them to visit the VA hospital or a senior center where many veterans live or visit. Families with a veteran could spend a great day together. 

The day off also would encourage U.S. citizens to vote. Voting is a great way to show appreciation to those veterans who protected our country, and as a result, the right to vote. There’s no better way to thank a veteran than by voting. I also recommend buying them a beer or simply saying thank you for your service.

Back in 2016, I had Veterans Day off from my full-time job. I spent part of the day substitute teaching at a Boise School District campus. I distinctly remember an elementary school student say, “if Veterans Day was a big deal, we wouldn’t have school.”

Ouch. We can’t undermine our veterans with a second-rate holiday. The same is true with our elections, which really are a celebration of our democratic republic. Let’s give them the respect they deserve with a true federal holiday that celebrates both.

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