November 11 is a yearly holiday in the United States that honors our veterans of the Armed Forces. It’s a day where your Facebook feeds will likely be filled with BBQs, beer, American flags and old military pictures. Posts will surely explain the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day, and people will share stories of loved ones who served at one point in their lives.

Veterans Day is somewhat of an international holiday, though many Americans don’t know it. Known as Armistice Day, it is recognized in Belgium, France, New Zealand, Serbia, the UK–to name a few. Some know it as Remembrance Day. While in the United States the holiday has become a celebration to honor our military veterans, they are all rooted in the victory and ending of World War One in 1918. It was on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month that marked the moment the beginning of the armistice with Germany, ending the fighting on the Western front. The armistice effectively meant the defeat of Germany that so much blood had been shed to secure. It wasn’t until 1954 that the U.S. renamed Armistice Day to Veterans Day.

98 years and many wars later, veterans of the U.S. military populate every corner of the country and many distant corners of the earth. According to the United States Census Bureau, there are around 21.3 million veterans living in the United States and Puerto Rico, which make up around 9% of our population. “Alaska had the highest proportion of its population who are veterans, at 13.8 percent. Puerto Rico, at 3.8 percent, reported the lowest proportion of veterans.”

In 1990, just under half of the children in the United States had a veteran of some kind as a parent, but by 2014 that had decreased to 16%.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs conducted an interesting study in 2016, some of which tackled the varying types of veteran populations. They currently predict that the veteran population to decline to 13.6 million by 2037, possibly since the wars that required a draft will get further and further away.

The VA also concluded that 50% of veterans live in 10 states. Here they are, starting with the most veteran populated:

  1. California
  2. Texas
  3. Florida
  4. Pennsylvania
  5. New York
  6. Ohio
  7. North Carolina
  8. Virginia
  9. Georgia
  10. Illinois

With that said, these figures are expected to change as they can track various trends and growth statistics within each individual state.

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I had the distinct privilege of serving next to some of the best men and women this nation has to offer. Many have left the military and gone on to serve our nation in other ways, and I am always stunned at how much they yearn just to serve in one way or another. As we cross into our 99th year since the close of World War One, let’s relax, spend time with our families and loved ones, and appreciate everything that these veterans of the past have provided for us. It’s easy to forget.

Featured image courtesy of the U.S. Air Force.