Veterans Day is a public holiday held on the anniversary of the end of World War I (November 11) to honor US veterans and victims of all wars. It replaced Armistice Day in 1954. How does Veterans Day impact global teams? Let’s see.
This short video made by the History Channel sheds light on the history and current approach to Veterans Day.
Is Veterans Day a Federal Holiday?
Yes, it is. Government offices, many banks, and some schools have a vacation day on Veterans Day. Most retail establishments, stores, businesses, colleges, and some schools would remain open. Some businesses may open late or close early on Veterans Day, however. Most local areas may post bulletins about closures or abbreviated hours in their newspapers or on their websites.
Will my American counterparts of onsite colleagues get a day off on Veterans Day?
In most cases, no. In a Bloomberg BNA’s Holiday Leave Practices survey 22% of employers said Veterans Day is a paid holiday for their employees. By comparison, virtually all surveyed employers provide a paid holiday on New Year’s Day and Thanksgiving Day (98 percent), Independence Day, Labor Day and Christmas Day (97 percent) and Memorial Day (96 percent). (source)
So, how is Veterans Day different from Memorial Day?
Veterans Day is meant to honor living veterans, where as Memorial Day is meant to honor those who have died in military service.
Do Veterans get special treatment on Veterans Day?
Some businesses may give discounts or freebies to Veterans on Veterans Day.
While it’s not common to wish people a happy Veterans Day, if you know that person is a vet, you can say it to him/her. If you’re a patriotic type (of American), you can add, “Thank you for your service [to our country].”
Non-Americans wouldn’t say these things, of course. If Indians or other international coworkers wanted to make small talk with American vets they have a relationship with, they can start with, “When did you serve?” That can be followed up with, “Were you stationed in the U.S. or overseas?” At every point, you should be prepared to drop the subject if he/she seems reluctant to talk about this experience. Thousands of vets returned from combat roles with Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); more of them saw terrible things they’d prefer not to be reminded of.
On the other hand, some vets are glad to talk of their experience. Two deeper questions to ask would be, “What did you learn about yourself during this time?” and “What skills did you gain (in the military) that you use in the workplace today?”
According to a US Vet, when asked how to wish Veterans on Veterans Day:
“Happy Veterans Day” or “Thank You for Your Service” are simple greetings that go a long way, and often help to make this solemn day a positive one. Veterans Day, for some Veterans, is difficult because it is a day of reflection. The reflection that I am referring to is the ultimate sacrifices of those whom they served with. This means reliving events that led up to the death of the close friends, which trigger feelings of survivor’s remorse. So a positive gesture showing genuine gratitude provides relevance to an otherwise difficult day. For “Gold Star” Families this is the term given to families that have lost loved ones, this shows the respect of the community for their sacrifice.
Keep in mind that asking these questions or having this discussion in a group setting would not be advisable. These kinds of discussions are best had in one-on-one interactions outside the purview of team meetings due to the sensitivity and personal nature of the discussion.
Honoring Veterans and Service People at a Rodeo
In 2016, I had the extraordinary opportunity to attend the Will Rogers Memorial Rodeo in Vinita, Oklahoma. The opening ceremony left me in both chills and tears as the organizers had beautifully choreographed a memorial to service people of the area through tributes to local heroes and an amazingly moving rendition of the national anthem, Star Spangled Banner by Makayla Gaylord.
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