To help mark Veterans Day, here are six facts about the holiday and the men and women it honors.
1. Veterans Day began almost a century ago. The first observance of Veterans Day, then called Armistice Day, took place Nov. 11, 1919, on the one-year anniversary of the end of World War I. In 1926, Congress passed a resolution calling for an annual observance of that war’s ending, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday in 1938. In 1954, the name of the holiday was changed to Veterans Day, which now pays tribute to all living and dead American veterans.
2. Gulf War-era veterans account for the largest share of U.S. veterans. According to the Pew Research Center, as of 2016, there were 7.1 million veterans who served in the Gulf War era, which runs from August 1990 through today.
3. Vietnam War veterans are the second-largest group of U.S. vets. About 6.8 million American veterans served during the Vietnam era, which ran from 1961-1975.
4. There are still veterans who served in World II and Korea. There are around 771,000 World War II veterans (1941-1946) still living, and 1.6 million who served in the Korean conflict (1950-1955).
5. The share of the U.S. population with military experience is declining. In 2016, 7 percent of U.S. adults were veterans, which is down from 18 percent in 1980, according to the Census Bureau.
6. The demographic profile of veterans will change over the next few decades. Currently, 9 percent of U.S. veterans are women. By 2045, the share of women veterans is expected to double to 18 percent. The share of veterans who are Hispanic is expected to nearly double from 7 percent to 13 percent, while the share who are black is expected to increase from 12 percent to 16 percent.
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