In the United States, this is a day for Americans to honor all the people who have served in the armed forces. It is a day for flags, parades with living vets, and visits to graves of veterans who have died or to war memorials. It is a time for patriotism.
Patriotism, as a word, comes from the Latin word patris, or fatherland. People in many European countries refer to their home nation as their fatherland (in whatever language they use), but Russians refer to their motherland. The word homeland has less negative connotations for English speakers than either of these words and is sex-neutral, too.
Patriotism, a love of country, is a very good thing, but we need some new words for love of all humanity and love of planet. Now that there is so much worldwide travel, so much interdependence among nations—now that we have seen our planet so often as only a pale blue dot in the vastness of space—we should perhaps start thinking of Earth as our homeland.
Support the Troops
If you live in the U.S., this could be a day of outreach and volunteer service on behalf of the troops. For ideas, consult http://www.apples4theteacher.com/holidays/veterans-day/support-our-troops.html.
Around the World
It's Veterans Day for the U.S., Guam, Puerto Rico, Switzerland, and the Virgin Islands. It's Armistice Day in Belgium, France, Guadeloupe, New Caledonia, St. Martin, and Switzerland. Finally, it's Remembrance Day in Australia, Bermuda, Canada, Cayman Islands, French Guiana, the United Kingdom, and St. Lucia.
Why is this day so special around the world? November 11 is the anniversary of the formal end of World War I. According to Wikipedia, major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice.
A Day for Flags
There is history and symbolism behind every flag. And every country tends to have multiple flags—for divisions such as states or provinces, for various armed forces, and so forth. A great data base about flags can be found at http://www.flags.net/mainindex.htm.
A Flag of the World (FOTW) has been designed by Mark Sensen. You can see this flag, and learn about its symbolism, on this website: http://flagspot.net/flags/.