11 Things to Remember This Veterans Day

iStock.com/MivPiv
iStock.com/MivPiv

Whether or not you know someone who served in the military or you served yourself, Veterans Day is a holiday worth observing. There are nearly 20 million veterans living in the U.S.—here are some things to remember when honoring them on November 11.

1. DON'T CONFUSE IT WITH MEMORIAL DAY.

Soldier saluting in uniform in cemetery.
iStock.com/Malven

Memorial Day (the last Monday in May) and Veterans Day (November 11) both honor the men and women who served in our nation's military, but there's a major difference between the holidays. While Memorial Day is reserved for those who died while serving their country, Veterans Day is a time to recognize all veterans, both the dead and the living.

2. IT USED TO HAVE A DIFFERENT NAME.

Soldiers carved into World War I memorial.
iStock.com/Jorisvo

On November 11, 1919 President Wilson issued an Armistice Day proclamation—a reference to the agreement made between the Allies and Germany to end World War I a year earlier. Congress would officially declare Armistice Day a federal holiday in 1938 (most states already had their own observances). In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation that officially changed the name to Veterans Day, making the holiday more inclusive of veterans who had served after and prior to the First World War.

3. THE DATE HOLDS HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE.

Silhouette of a World War I doughboy soldier.
iStock.com/WilliamSherman

Though the date changed a few times throughout the 20th century, today Veterans Day falls on November 11 of each year. The date was chosen to coincide with the anniversary of the end of World War I, which occurred "at the 11th hour of 11th day of the 11th month."

4. NEARLY HALF A MILLION WORLD WAR II VETERANS ARE ALIVE TODAY.

Senior veteran saluting at flag.
iStock.com/flySnow

World War II ended more than 70 years ago, but many of the veterans who fought in the war are still around to thank. According The National WWII Museum, nearly 500,000 of the 16 million people who fought in the Second World War are alive in 2018. That number is dropping sharply each year, which is why the museum is dedicated to preserving World War II history through first-hand, oral accounts.

5. NOT EVERY VETERAN FOUGHT IN A WAR.

Military members in uniform waiting to board bus.
iStock.com/nelsonarts

Members of the military don't need to fight overseas to serve their country. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly a quarter of the veterans living in America today only served during peacetime. Military missions that don't involve war may include protecting U.S. embassies, providing natural disaster relief, and bringing medical assistance to impoverished communities.

6. THESE THREE STATES HAVE HUGE VETERAN POPULATIONS.

Flag patch sewn onto military uniform.
iStock.com/dangutsu

There are three U.S. states whose veteran populations exceed 1 million: California with 1.85 million, Texas with 1.68 million, and Florida with 1.58 million. And the states with the highest percentage of veterans are Alaska, Virginia, Montana, Wyoming, Maine, and Hawaii, all with around 10 percent of the adult population being veterans. These numbers still make up just a fraction of the country's 18.8 million veterans, who can be found in all parts of the U.S.

7. VETERANS ARE BETTER EDUCATED.

Military member laughing at a desk.
iStock.com/asiseeit

People who served in the military tend to have completed higher levels of education than those who have not enlisted. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 37.1 percent of U.S. veterans have completed some college or have an associate's degree and 27.7 percent have earned at least a bachelor's degree.

8. IT'S CELEBRATED IN OTHER COUNTRIES (KIND OF).

Canadian flag at war memorial.
iStock.com/Canadapanda

Several countries have their own holidays recognizing veterans and those who have died in wars that fall on or around November 11. But the important day goes by a different name outside the U.S.: In Canada, it's Remembrance Day, and many in the UK observe both Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day.

9. VETERANS ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE HOMELESS.

Hands with fingerless gloves holding military tags.
iStock.com/Moussa81

Despite only accounting for 7 percent of the general population, veterans make up roughly 11 percent of the adult homeless population. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans reports there are more than 40,000 veterans living without homes on any given night in the U.S. Compared with the total veteran population, younger veterans are disproportionately likely to be homeless, though there are people who have served in a range of wars—including World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, and Afghanistan and Iraq—living on the streets, with Vietnam War-era veterans accounting for nearly half the total, according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.

10. MANY LEAVE THE ARMED FORCES WITH MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES.

Young girl holding American flag embracing man in military uniform.
iStock.com/videodet

Mental illness crops up in veterans at an alarmingly high rate. According to the RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research in 2008, close to one-fifth of veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan came home with either major depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. These issues can have many potential causes, but in a significant portion of veterans head injury may have been a key factor. About 7 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan vets have a mental health condition and also reported sustaining a traumatic brain injury.

11. YOU CAN SUPPORT VETERANS ANY TIME OF YEAR.

People holding American flags at Veterans Day Parade.
iStock.com/BasSlabbers

From picking up the tab for a veteran at your local diner or driving them to a doctor's appointment, there are many small ways to show your gratitude to the veterans in your community. There are also plenty of charitable organizations dedicated to supporting veterans around the country. Here is a list of some of the veterans' groups looking for donations and volunteers.

Why Do the Lions and Cowboys Always Play on Thanksgiving?

Elsa, Getty Images
Elsa, Getty Images

Every year since 1934, the Detroit Lions have taken the field for a Thanksgiving game, no matter how bad their record has been. It all goes back to when the Lions were still a fairly young franchise. The team was founded in 1929 in Portsmouth, Ohio, as the Spartans. Portsmouth, while surely a lovely town, wasn't quite big enough to support a pro team in the young NFL. Detroit radio station owner George A. Richards bought the Spartans and moved the team to Detroit in 1934.

Although Richards's new squad was a solid team, they were playing second fiddle in Detroit to the Hank Greenberg-led Tigers, who had gone 101-53 to win the 1934 American League Pennant. In the early weeks of the 1934 season, the biggest crowd the Lions could draw for a game was a relatively paltry 15,000. Desperate for a marketing trick to get Detroit excited about its fledgling football franchise, Richards hit on the idea of playing a game on Thanksgiving. Since Richards's WJR was one of the bigger radio stations in the country, he had considerable clout with his network and convinced NBC to broadcast a Thanksgiving game on 94 stations nationwide.

The move worked brilliantly. The undefeated Chicago Bears rolled into town as defending NFL champions, and since the Lions had only one loss, the winner of the first Thanksgiving game would take the NFL's Western Division. The Lions not only sold out their 26,000-seat stadium, they also had to turn fans away at the gate. Even though the juggernaut Bears won that game, the tradition took hold, and the Lions have been playing on Thanksgiving ever since.

This year, the Lions will host the Chicago Bears.

HOW 'BOUT THEM COWBOYS?

The Cowboys, too, jumped on the opportunity to play on Thanksgiving as an extra little bump for their popularity. When the chance to take the field on Thanksgiving arose in 1966, it might not have been a huge benefit for the Cowboys. Sure, the Lions had filled their stadium for their Thanksgiving games, but that was no assurance that Texans would warm to holiday football so quickly.

Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm, though, was something of a marketing genius; among his other achievements was the creation of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

Schramm saw the Thanksgiving Day game as a great way to get the team some national publicity even as it struggled under young head coach Tom Landry. Schramm signed the Cowboys up for the game even though the NFL was worried that the fans might just not show up—the league guaranteed the team a certain gate revenue in case nobody bought tickets. But the fans showed up in droves, and the team broke its attendance record as 80,259 crammed into the Cotton Bowl. The Cowboys beat the Cleveland Browns 26-14 that day, and a second Thanksgiving pigskin tradition caught hold. Since 1966, the Cowboys have missed having Thanksgiving games only twice.

Dallas will take on the Washington Redskins on Thursday.

WHAT'S WITH THE NIGHT GAME?

In 2006, because six-plus hours of holiday football was not sufficient, the NFL added a third game to the Thanksgiving lineup. This game is not assigned to a specific franchise—this year, the New Orleans Saints will welcome the Atlanta Falcons.

Re-running this 2008 article a few days before the games is our Thanksgiving tradition.

Canned Pumpkin Isn’t Actually Pumpkin

iStock
iStock

We hate to squash your autumnal dreams, but baking a pumpkin pie might not be as easy as you think. That’s because the canned pumpkin that normally makes pie prep such a breeze isn’t made of pumpkin at all. Food & Wine reports that cans of pumpkin puree—even those that advertise "100 percent pumpkin"—are actually made of a range of different squashes.

Most pumpkin purees are a mix of winter squashes, including butternut squash, Golden Delicious, and Hubbard. Meanwhile, Libby’s, the largest pumpkin puree brand, has developed its own unique brand of squash called the Dickinson, which is more closely related to a butternut squash than a pumpkin. The FDA is vague about what counts as "pumpkin," which allows companies to pack unspecified squashes into their purees and still list pumpkin as the sole ingredient.

While it’s a little unsettling to find out your favorite pie is not what it seems, pumpkin puree brands have a good reason for their deception. While pumpkins are a quintessential part of autumn, they don’t actually taste that great. Most pumpkins are watery and a little bit stringy, and turning them into a puree takes more work, and involves less reward, than other, sweeter winter squashes.

[h/t Food & Wine]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER