Why Doesn’t Veterans Day Have an Apostrophe?

On November 11 our country will honor veterans current and past, on a day that has become a challenge for writers and citizens—the dilemma remains, to add that apostrophe or skip it?

Along with most other national holidays, there is a “right” way to write Veterans Day, as the government has named each holiday specifically. So rest assured, you can convince your friends and coworkers that you are right and no, there’s no two ways about it. Read up on these Veterans Day facts you didn’t learn in school.

Why avoid the apostrophe?

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, we cannot assign an apostrophe before the “s” because that would indicate the holiday belongs to one, single veteran as in “veteran’s day.” However, the debate sparks when we talk about losing the apostrophe or adding it after the “s,” as in “Veterans’ Day.” This, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, is incorrect because “it’s not a day ‘belonging’ to all veterans, it’s a day for honoring all veterans.” The apostrophe implies belonging, which isn’t accurate in this case. Here’s the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

What’s the purpose of this day?

Even to the most patriotic among us, all of the holidays can blur together, so let’s break it down. There are three major holidays honoring military-related personnel: Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Armed Forces Day. Veterans Day honors all military members, whether they served in war-time or not, and it’s a celebration of living military members, along with those who are deceased. Originally, the holiday was called “Armistice Day,” in reference to the armistice that was signed on November 11, 1918, that concluded World War I. After World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, veterans advocates encouraged the change to be more inclusive of all veterans.

How can we best honor veterans?

There is a range of respectful and meaningful ways to honor a veteran on Veterans Day. According to Military.com, one way is to simply involve yourself in your town’s events, whether it’s a parade, festival, or another ceremony. We also recommend these simple but powerful ways to honor veterans.

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Alex Frost
Alexandra Frost is a freelance writer and journalism teacher who covers parenting, health, relationships, communications and business, education, and more for Reader's Digest and other publications. Her work has been featured in Glamour, Parents, Healthline, Today's Parent, Women's Health, and We Are Teachers. She has a Master's in Education and a Bachelor's in journalism/communication from Miami University, and resides in Cincinnati with her three sons under age five. See more of her work at Alexandra-Frost.com.