Americans on Friday honor Veterans Day, one of the most patriotic holidays of the year, just days after a particularly contentious presidential election. On Tuesday, Republican nominee Donald Trump won the election with 306 electoral votes, despite his opponent Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, winning the popular vote by more than 400,000 votes.
While thousands in big cities have taken their anger and frustration to the streets for mostly peaceful protests, there will also be many on the streets on this national holiday saluting those who fought in wars. Roughly 500,000 spectators are expected to line the streets of New York's Fifth Avenue for a parade that honors the 19.3 million military veterans in the U.S.
There is a great deal to know about Veterans Day in 2016, that includes some disheartening facts about the conditions of former military servicemen.
1) Veterans Day is celebrated on Nov. 11 every year. The holiday used to be referred to as “Armistice Day” because it was celebrated on the same date that World War 1 hostilities ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially changed the name to Veterans Day.
2) The first celebration using the term Veterans Day occurred in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1947. Raymond Weeks, a World War II veteran, organized “National Veterans Day,” which included a parade and speeches from political figures to honor all veterans, not just the ones in World War 1.
3) In 1986, Congress passed the Uniform Holiday Bill, which moved the date of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October to ensure that all citizens “enjoy more fully the country that is their magnificent heritage” on a Monday like they do for George Washington’s Birthday and Memorial Day. The law went into effect until 1974 when President Gerald Ford moved the date back due to the historical significance of the Nov. 11 date.
4) Almost 1.5 million veterans live in poverty in the U.S. The veteran poverty rate for vets between 18 and 34 old is higher than all other age groups, meaning the young men and women who served in recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were most affected, according to the National Veterans Association. Of the 2.5 million Americans who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, 7 percent were unemployed.
5) Between 18 to 22 veterans commit suicide every day, the Washington Post reported.
6) Roughly 50,000 veterans are homeless, according to NPR News.
7) Veterans Day is often confused with Memorial Day, which is celebrated on the fourth Monday of May, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans Day honors American all veterans, living or deceased, while Memorial Day solely pays tribute to those who died in service or as a result of an injury sustained during battle.
8) Britain, France, Australia and Canada also have a holiday celebrating their veterans on or near the Nov. 11 date. Canada has Remembrance Day on Nov. 11, while Britain celebrates Remembrance Sunday on whichever Sunday lies closest to that date on the calendar. In Europe, Britain and the Commonwealth countries, it is customary to observe two minutes of silence for veterans at 11 a.m. every Nov. 11.
9) Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., which is the only national cemetery where servicemen from every war in U.S. history have been buried, holds a ceremony every year to honor those who died during times of war. The commemorative ceremonies are held under the Tomb of the Unknowns at 11 a.m., according to the cemetery’s website.
10) There is no legal requirement to close public schools on Veterans Day. Individual school districts establish their own policies, meaning that some children get the holiday off while others still have to go in, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
11) Roughly 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffer from Traumatic Brain Injury, Post Traumatic Stress or major depression, the National Veterans Foundation reported.
12) California has the most veterans of any state, the Los Angeles Times reported.