What You May Not Know about Veterans Day

From the number of total veterans to a brief history of the holiday itself, the U.S Census Bureau provides a data-driven look at Veterans Day.

In honor of Veterans Day, the U.S. Census Bureau compiled a slew of facts and information about the holiday, beginning with how the day was established.

Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation in 1954 to change the name to Veterans Day as a way to honor those who served in all American wars. The day honors military veterans with parades and speeches across the nation. A national ceremony takes place at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Veterans by the Numbers

  • 21.8 million military veterans in the United States in 2010
  • 1.6 million female veterans in 2010
  • 2.4 million black veterans in 2010
  • 1.2 million Hispanic veterans in 2010
  • 265,000 Asian veterans in 2010
  • 156,000 American Indian or Alaska Native veterans in 2010
  • 28,000 Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander veterans in 2010

(The numbers for blacks, Asians, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders, and non-Hispanic whites cover only those reporting a single race.)

When They Served

  • 7.6 million Vietnam-era veterans in 2010. Thirty-five percent of all living veterans served during this time (1964-1975)
  • 4.8 million served during the Gulf War (representing service from Aug. 2, 1990, to present)
  • 2.1 million served in World War II (1941-1945)
  • 2.6 million served in the Korean War (1950-1953)
  • 5.5 million served in peacetime only
  • 49,500 living veterans in 2010 who served during the Vietnam era and both Gulf War eras and no other period

Other living veterans in 2010 who served during three wars:

  • 54,000 served during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam era

Living veterans in 2010 who served during two wars and no other period:

  • 837,000 served during both Gulf War eras
  • 211,000 served during both the Korean War and the Vietnam era
  • 147,000 served during both World War II and the Korean War

Source: 2010 American Community Survey

Return tomorrow for further information on Veterans’ education, income levels and disabilities.


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