I have long maintained that the single best holiday of the year, and my personal favorite, is far and away Veteran’s Day. I stand by that to this day.
When I tell people my position on the top of the holiday of the year, I am invariably met with initial derision. People think I am crazy. Nobody believes me and when they find out I am a veteran, they nod with a knowing expression. Suddenly, my madness makes sense. “Oh, okay. Of course you like Veteran’s Day as a holiday,” they say.
Now, I will not deny that having served is a factor in my affection for the day, but it is a rather minor component. There are other, more significant reasons that we ALL should love Veteran’s Day, whether you served or not. Let me explain.
For those who do not know, Veteran’s Day commemorates American military veterans. It was originally Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I. At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, the guns on the Western Front fell silent and the “War to End All Wars” ended. In 1954, Armistice Day in the U.S. became Veteran’s Day, a holiday to honor all those who have served in the U.S. military. This should not be confused with Memorial Day (at the end of May), which is a holiday to honor those who died in military service, and Armed Forces Day (also in May), which is a holiday intended to honor those currently serving.
Okay, so, being a veteran, the day appeals to me. But its many additional features make it THE best holiday for everyone.
For most people, it is a day off from work. Always a key feature of any good holiday. It is not, however, a day off for everyone. So most stores and shops are open. This allows those who are given the day off (and those who just take the day off) to go shopping or run some errands if they like. In many cases, those who do have to work get holiday pay, which is also nice.
Nobody comes to visit you for Veteran’s Day, nor does anyone expect you to come visit them. No in-laws coming in from out of town for a few days, no need to pack up your own family and fly to Boise. In fact, I would go so far as to say if you did visit family in another time zone for a few days over the Veteran’s Day holiday, they would be rather surprised. Nope, you get to just stay home and chill.
You do not need to buy anyone a gift for Veteran’s Day, not even your wife. Think about this one for a second. In a given year, you have at least two days requiring you to provide gifts for every person close to you: Christmas (or whatever secular or religious winter solstice holiday of your choosing that you observe or do not observe in the generally accepted calendar month of December) and birthdays.
When it comes to your wife, well, damn, you have all kinds of days to come up with “the perfect gift” over the course of the year, don’t you? Birthday, Christmas (see above), anniversary, and Valentine’s Day at a minimum. Add these to the days included for everyone else and all of a sudden, you are tossing out gifts like it’s your job every time you turn around and hemorrhaging money like your wallet has been shot in the femoral.
But not on Veteran’s Day. Nope, nobody looks at you expectantly on Veteran’s Day eve and asks what you bought for them. No surreptitious trips to the mall, no dead tree in your living room, no time wasted wrapping presents and assembling a Radio Flyer at 0300 in order to surprise the kids. At worst, your former Marine buddies will come by looking for a free beer while you sit around and watch a game. Even that is doubtful, because they are all probably still hungover from celebrating the Marine Corps birthday the night before. Beyond that, there is zero requirement for any gift giving on this wonderous holiday.
You do not have to make a big meal on Veteran’s Day. Unlike so many other holidays at this time of the year, there is no social norm saying you have to break out your great grandmother’s good china, roast a massive dead bird for half a day and cook enough additional food to feed a small Central American nation for a week. Those former Marines who showed up for your beer? Give them some of last night’s pizza and they will sing your praises for generations. Otherwise, you are completely off the hook for food on Veteran’s Day. And if you actually ARE a veteran, lots of places give you free food and say “thank you for your service” on this greatest of all holidays!
To sum up, Veteran’s Day is a day off. A true day off. A holiday. If you have to work, you probably get extra money for doing so. If you do not have to work, it is fantastic! You do not need to travel anywhere, nobody is coming to see you, you do not have to buy anyone anything and you do not need to feed anyone. You can go out and stores are open, or you can stay home and binge watch John Wayne movies. If you do go out, and you are a veteran, you can get free food and people are nice to you.
Is there any other holiday that can make all of these claims? I think not! No longer do I appear to be a lunatic for loving Veteran’s Day as a holiday, do I? Spread the word: Veteran’s Day is THE best holiday of the year.
And if you are a veteran, thank you for your service. May the rest of your days be peaceful and serene. You earned it.