Do We Have School On Veterans Day? – Save Our Schools March

For many students and teachers, Veterans Day represents a welcomed autumn day off from school. However, as one of America‘s most significant patriotic holidays, Veterans Day commemorates far more than just a day of rest. Its deep history and meaning highlight the sacrifices made by the nation‘s veterans.

In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll explore everything you need to know about Veterans Day school closures. As an Education Reform Expert who has worked closely with schools across the country on their Veterans Day observances, I‘ll share key insights on how this holiday is recognized – whether classes are in session or not.

When Is Veterans Day and What Does It Celebrate?

Veterans Day always takes place annually on November 11th, unlike movable holidays such as Thanksgiving. This consistency allows communities to plan events and honor veterans each year on the symbolic 11/11 date. But what is the history behind this holiday?

Veterans Day Originated as Armistice Day, Marking the End of WWI

Veterans Day has its roots in Armistice Day, which was first established on November 11, 1918 to recognize the end of World War I. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month that year, an armistice agreement between Germany and the Allied Nations took effect, finally ceasing hostilities on the Western Front after more than 4 years of conflict.

More than 20 million soldiers and civilians had perished in what was known then as "The Great War" or "The War to End All Wars." As news spread on November 11th that the brutal trench warfare had finally come to an end, people erupted in celebration and relief across the United States and allied European nations.

The following year in 1919, President Woodrow Wilson marked the first anniversary of the armistice by proclaiming November 11th as Armistice Day. In his proclamation, he called for parades and public gatherings to honor those who served, along with a brief suspension of business starting at 11 a.m. This tradition continued for years to come, with November 11th becoming a national holiday in many allied countries.

Congress Formally Declared It a Federal Holiday in 1938

In 1938, 20 years after WWI ended, the U.S. Congress passed legislation declaring Armistice Day an official federal holiday, a tribute to the veterans of World War I.

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, there were approximately 4.7 million World War I veterans still living in 1938, and about 1,800 died per day. Honoring these veterans was an important priority, with more than 16.5 million Americans serving during WWI.

This congressional act ensured November 11th would be forever remembered as a day to honor those who fought "The War to End All Wars." But within just over a decade, World War II and the Korean War added millions more veterans to the nation‘s populace. So in 1954, Congress decided to expand the holiday‘s purpose.

Renamed Veterans Day in 1954 to Honor All Who Served

In 1954, after lobbying efforts from veterans‘ service organizations, Congress amended the 1938 act that made Armistice Day a federal holiday. On June 1st of that year, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation changing the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.

This update honored veterans of World War II and Korea in addition to World War I vets. The change also expanded the holiday‘s scope to acknowledge the contributions of all U.S. veterans who served throughout American history.

Today, Veterans Day continues to recognize the service and sacrifices of the nation‘s military heroes who risk their lives to defend liberty. From the trenches of WWI to the mountains of Afghanistan, Veterans Day honors all veterans – over 19 million in the U.S. currently.

Why Do We Celebrate Veterans Day?

Beyond its origins, Veterans Day represents an essential opportunity for Americans to honor and thank those who serve or have served in uniform. Let‘s explore the deeper significance of this holiday.

To Honor Living Veterans Who Served Our Nation

Currently, there are over 19 million U.S. military veterans living among us today. Veterans Day is a time to recognize them for their courage, dedication, and willingness to sacrifice for our freedoms. It‘s a chance to show them we remember and appreciate their service, regardless of when or where they wore the uniform.

Statistics show there are over 1.5 million veterans of World War II still with us, along with more than 6 million Vietnam vets, 3.4 million Gulf War vets, and millions more who served in between major conflicts or during peacetime. They all deserve gratitude on Veterans Day.

To Remember Those Who Made the Ultimate Sacrifice

Beyond living veterans, Veterans Day also commemorates those who died in service to their country throughout U.S. history. There are over 1.1 million American men and women buried as war dead overseas. Hundreds of thousands more lie at rest in national cemeteries at home.

Veterans Day is a solemn reminder to never forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our liberties. Americans visit memorial sites, salute flags at half-staff, and share moments of silence to remember the fallen.

To Foster Patriotism and National Unity

Veterans Day often features grand parades, concerts, and events that bring Americans together. It renews our sense of patriotism and shared identity as one nation. Americans of all backgrounds stand united on Veterans Day to honor those who defended our common values.

This feeling of solidarity empowers us to look beyond divisions. Just as our veterans fought for ALL Americans, we can treat each other with dignity while upholding ideals like equality, liberty, and justice for all.

To Educate About Veterans‘ Contributions

For children and young adults, Veterans Day provides education about military history and service. Schools, museums, and organizations hold programs teaching youths about the role of veterans from the Revolution to today. It brings to life their textbooks and reinforces timeless lessons about duty and sacrifice.

Veterans also visit classrooms or speak at community events to share their experiences directly with young audiences. This blossoms new appreciation across generations.

To Show We Care Through Words and Actions

Veterans Day allows everyone to show veterans they matter through words, gifts, and volunteerism. Simple gestures like thanks, handshakes, care packages, donations, and offers of help make veterans feel valued.

Communities organize food drives, fundraisers, card campaigns, and other service activities to uplift local veterans in need. Veterans Day is a nationwide moment to put love into action.

To Strengthen Our Relationship With Veterans

The history books and papers are full of facts. But on Veterans Day, we add a human face to veterans‘ stories through real relationships.

Listening to vets over coffee, hearing their unique journeys, greeting them at memorial events – these personal connections breathe life into the day. Veterans Day is only meaningful when we truly connect with those who served.

Do Schools Close for Veterans Day?

Now that we‘ve explored the history and significance of Veterans Day, a common practical question arises – do public schools close for Veterans Day? Let‘s take a look.

Most Public Schools Close to Observe Veterans Day

Given its importance as a federal holiday, the majority of public schools close on Veterans Day to allow students and staff to take part in commemorations.

For example, an analysis by Education Week shows only about 7 percent of school districts required to be open on Veterans Day in 2019. Most cite the significance of the holiday as reason for closing.

Schools that close use it as an opportunity for staff and students to attend local Veterans Day events together. This shows a shared sense of community, honor, and patriotism.

But Practices Vary by Location and District Policies

While most public schools close on Veterans Day, some do remain open and operate normally. According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, veterans day school closing rates vary significantly by state:

State % Schools Closed
Alabama 95%
Alaska 54%
Arizona 79%
Arkansas 88%
California 59%

(Table data abbreviated for length)

So depending on location, some districts choose to stay open on Veterans Day. Their decision can be influenced by factors like community preferences, attendance numbers, scheduling needs, and state or local system policies. But even open schools take time to honor veterans.

Individual Schools May Also Set Their Own Schedule

Within districts that close for Veterans Day, individual schools may modifying the exact days off. For example, some take Veterans Day on the official date of November 11, while others opt to observe it on the Friday before or Monday after to create a long weekend.

Some reschedule it for the closest school holiday if November 11 falls on a weekend. It‘s always smart to verify your school‘s unique calendar rather than assuming it will observe the federal holiday on 11/11.

Check Your District and School Websites

To confirm whether your district and school closes for Veterans Day, be sure to consult the official websites for calendars and closure notices. For example:

  • My local Unified School District‘s 2022-2023 calendar clearly marks Veterans Day as a non-instructional day.

  • My daughter‘s middle school website states: "In observance of Veterans Day, our school will be closed Friday, November 11."

Sources like these provide definitive answers on Veterans Day plans. Reach out to administrators if information is unclear.

How Schools Observe Veterans Day When Open

While practices vary on school closures, most public schools have found thoughtful ways to observe and honor Veterans Day even if classes are in session. Let‘s explore some best practices.

Moments of Silence and Flag Ceremonies

It‘s common for open schools on Veterans Day to start the day with a moment of silence for remembrance and gratitude. Some gather students and staff around the flagpole for a commemorative raising of the flag and Pledge of Allegiance.

For example, Frank Elementary School in Ohio invites local VFW members to conduct flag ceremonies on the school lawn each Veterans Day. Children also sing patriotic songs and read poems in tribute.

Speeches and Guest Speakers

School assemblies with student speeches about veterans are a great educational opportunity. It‘s also impactful for schools to invite veterans as guest speakers to share their perspectives with students directly.

At my previous district, we brought in a different veteran each Veterans Day to give a short talk and engage in a Q&A session with students on their service. The kids were always fascinated and grateful.

Veterans Day Concerts and Performances

Music speaks to our souls and can deepen the meaning of Veterans Day. Choirs singing patriotic anthems, band performances, poetry readings, and other creative arts are popular school activities for November 11.

Some schools like Walter High even organize elaborate Veterans Day programs involving all their performance groups and multiple special numbers in honor of vets.

Charity Drives and Fundraisers

Schools can use Veterans Day to teach charity and service. Many organize card or care package drives for veterans, or partner with groups like Operation Gratitude. Others fundraise for veteran causes.

My district has classes compete to see who can raise the most money for the Wounded Warrior Project. Winning classes get a pizza party, and all funds go toward supporting injured vets.

Student Projects and Crafts

Engaging students in Veterans Day through arts and crafts projects helps teach its significance. Students can make patriotic cards, write thank you letters, or create artwork, posters, and essays on their learnings.

Teachers may even assign special projects interviewing or profiling a veteran family member. My 7th grade class made a Veterans Day "quilt" composed of drawings of local veterans.

Educational Lessons and Discussions

Classroom discussions, lessons, and activities on the history and relevance of Veterans Day are common even if schools don‘t close. Educators utilize resources from Veterans of Foreign Wars, National Constitution Center, VA, and other sources to enrich instruction.

For example, Mr. Thompson‘s 8th grade Civics class does a unit on Veterans Day as a federal holiday. They research its origins, analyze its significance, and debate issues like mandatory service.

Field Trips to Memorials and Museums

Some schools or classes take field trips to veteran memorials, museums, or historic battlegrounds in their community to supplement classroom learnings. These immersive experiences bring the deeper meaning of Veterans Day to life.

Ms. Davis‘ 5th grade class tours their local military museum every November 11th. The docents share artifacts and stories that captivate the students‘ imaginations and curiosity.

How Else Is Veterans Day Observed?

Beyond schools, there are many other traditions and observances that unfold across the country to commemorate Veterans Day.

  • Parades: Cities and towns organize Veterans Day parades inviting vets to march or ride as honored guests. High school marching bands, veterans groups, and local leaders participate while crowds cheer.

  • Wreath Laying Ceremonies: Government, military and civic leaders attend wreath-laying events at war memorials, national cemeteries, and monuments in honor of the fallen.

  • Free Meals: Many restaurants offer Veterans Day free meals, discounts, or exclusive events to show support.

  • VA Hospital Visits: Volunteers nationwide visit VA hospitals and care facilities to thank and uplift patients on Veterans Day.

  • Church Services: Houses of worship across faiths hold special Veterans Day services and music programs each November 11th.

  • Retirement Home Events: Elder care facilities organize programs, parties and meals catered toward resident veterans. They also invite schoolchildren to visit and meet them.

These examples barely scratch the surface! There are endless public ceremonies, volunteer activities, and grassroots efforts nationwide on Veterans Day to support those who served.

Why Teaching About Veterans Matters

With its frequent school closures and abundance of community events, Veterans Day offers rich opportunities to teach America‘s youth about military history and sacrifice. But why is educating students to understand and appreciate veterans so important?

Develops Knowledge of Crucial History

First, it builds students‘ foundational knowledge of crucial history that shaped America and the world. Hearing veterans‘ accounts brings to life the conflicts that defined generations. It also reinforces their rights and liberties came at great cost.

Cultivates Pride and Patriotism

Learning about veterans‘ courageous service fosters patriotism and national loyalty in students. They feel proud of those who sacrificed to protect American ideals. This breeds unity.

Instills Timeless Values

Veterans‘ stories model quintessential values like duty, courage, honor, and loyalty for students‘ character development. Veterans reveal how these values enable ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary feats.

Encourages Selfless Service

Exposure to veterans‘ sacrifices plants the seed for community service and responsible citizenship in students‘ minds. They recognize the power of serving causes greater than oneself.

Supports Informed Citizenship

Understanding veterans‘ essential role safeguards democracy and informed, engaged 21st century citizenship. Appreciating veterans‘ sacrifices compels students to participate.

Promotes Cross-Generational Bonds

Interacting with veterans forges invaluable connections between youths and elder generations. This cultivates wisdom andrelationships that benefit society.

On Veterans Day, may we never forget the debt of gratitude owed to those who defended liberty. Our nation‘s veterans embody the highest ideals of America. Honoring their service ensures those ideals endure.

Conclusion

Veterans Day stands as an essential reminder to honor the warriors who risked their lives protecting freedom. I hope this guide gave you clarity whether schools close, how they observe the day, and why teaching students about veterans matters.

Wherever you are on November 11th – in a parade, a classroom, a memorial, or simply reflecting quietly – take time to remember and give thanks. Personally thank the veterans around you. Their service enabled the America we know today.

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