Originally observed as Armistice Day, commemorating the end of The Great War on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, Veterans Day now salutes all who have served the country in war or peace.
Observed in Australia, Canada, and Great Britain as Remembrance Day, linked to the wear and laying of red poppy flowers to honor their war dead, the U.S. amended the occasion's name to Veterans Day in 1954 to recognize not only World War I-era service members but all living Veterans while Memorial Day is a time to honor the fallen.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates there are about 20 million living American Veterans including 1.6 million over age 85. The largest group, some 7.7 million, are Gulf War-era vets followed by 6.2 million who served during the Vietnam-era. The smallest group are World War II-era Veterans, whose numbers have declined to about 325,000.
The oldest living American WWII vet is believed to be Lawrence Brooks, a New Orleans native who turned 111 this September at a VA facility in Louisiana. Brooks served in the 91st Engineer Battalion, a primarily African-American unit, in New Guinea and the Philippines.
The traditional Presidential Armed Forces Full Honor Wreath-Laying Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery is set to be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday and can be streamed here. Further, the new U.S. Army National Museum Opening Ceremony is also slated for today.