Veterans Day

Veterans Day is a federal holiday observed on November 11th by the United States to honor all who have served the country during war or peace, whether they are dead or alive – although it is primarily intended to thank our living veterans.

Thank You Veterans. Honoring All Who Served.

First known as Armistice Day, President Woodrow Wilson set aside the day of November 11th (the first anniversary of the signing of the armistice ending World War I) to recognize and thank our American soldiers for their service. This day was declared a National Holiday in 1938, and in 1954 the name was officially changed to Veterans Day to honor all American Veterans. In honor of these brave, loyal, and selfless soldiers, we celebrate this day to remember those who sacrificed for us and gave our country the freedom we enjoy today.

Veterans know better than anyone else the price of freedom, for they’ve suffered the scars of war. We can offer them no better tribute than to protect what they have won for us.

Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States

Facts about Veterans Day

On November 11, 1921, an unidentified American soldier killed in the war was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. It is called the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. An official wreath-laying ceremony is held each Veterans Day at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. Usually the president, or another high-ranking government official, lays the wreath on the grave.

Britain, France, Australia and Canada also commemorate the veterans of World Wars I and II on or near November 11th. Canada has Remembrance Day, while Britain has Remembrance Sunday (the second Sunday of November). In Europe, Britain and the Commonwealth countries, it is common to observe two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. every November 11th.

Veterans Day should not be confused with Memorial Day. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, “Memorial Day (the fourth Monday in May) honors American service members who died in service to their country or as a result of injuries incurred during battle, while Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans–living or dead–but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.”

Drs. Koleff (left) and Mitchell
Drs. Koleff (left) and Mitchell

Marin Koleff, MD, FACP, FCCP, from WashU Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine and Joshua Mitchell, MD, MSCI, FACC, FICOS, from WashU Cardiovascular Division are two of our Department of Medicine faculty who have served our country.

Dr. Koleff served in the Army and received the Bronze Star – Awarded for services rendered during Operation Desert Storm, the National Defense Service Medal (Operation Desert Storm) and many others during his military service.

“I was proud to serve in the Army during a time of war. I would gladly do it again.”

Marin Kollef, MD, FACP, FCCP
Golman Professor of Medicine

Dr. Mitchell served as a Field Artillery officer, primarily in the 82nd Airborne Division, from 2000-2004, deploying once to Afghanistan and once to Iraq. He separated to go to medical school and then re-entered service in 2008. He served another 7 years, including as the physician for the 3rd Ranger Battalion, deploying 3 additional times to Afghanistan. He received the Bronze Star Medal – Awarded for merit, Operation Enduring Freedom, in 2013, COL Robert H. Moser Award – given annually by the American College of Physicians to an outstanding general Internist for superior clinical practice, in 2013 and the Bronze Star Medal, Awarded for Merit, Operation Enduring Freedom, in 2002 to name a few.

“I was honored to be able to serve 11 years in the armed services alongside some truly remarkable colleagues who devoted their careers to their countries and their countrymen. It was a privilege to help stand for our country’s freedom following in the footsteps of my forefathers. I am equally as honored to now be able to serve my community as a cardiologist at Washington University in St. Louis. 

It is rewarding and fulfilling to be able to help our patients with their heart disease and hopefully improve their quality of life and longevity. Washington University is a very collaborative institution where we work together to provide outstanding care to our patients. That teamwork approach and goal of serving others certainly mirrors my time in the service.”

Joshua Mitchell, MD, MSCI, FACC, FICOS
Associate Professor of Medicine

Veterans Day Events in St. Louis