Veterans Day or Veteran's Day: Which is Correct?

By Carly Forsaith, updated on November 1, 2023

An annual holiday to celebrate military veterans? That sounds like an excellent idea... but how do you spell it? Is it 'Veterans Day' or 'Veteran's Day'? Should you be using an apostrophe? That's what we're about to find out. In this article, you'll learn the meaning of this national holiday, how to write it, and how to use it in a sentence.

But if you're just here for the short version, here it is:

  • Always spell it 'Veterans Day' without the apostrophe.
  • Some holidays use the apostrophe, but this isn't the case for Veterans Day.

What Is Veterans Day?

Veterans Day is a federal holiday in the United States that is observed annually on November 11th. The day honors military veterans, who are persons who have served in the United States Armed Forces. It is a day dedicated to expressing gratitude and appreciation for the contributions and sacrifices of veterans in safeguarding the nation.

Various events and ceremonies take place across the country to pay tribute to veterans. These may include parades, memorial services, and other activities that acknowledge the service and sacrifice of those who have served in the military. Many people also take a moment of silence at 11:00 a.m. on November 11th to honor and remember the veterans.

It's important to note that Veterans Day is different from Memorial Day, which is observed in May and specifically honors those who have died in military service to the United States. On the other hand, Veterans Day celebrates all military veterans, living or deceased, and expresses gratitude for their service.

Is it 'Veterans Day' or 'Veteran's Day?'

People spell this holiday with an apostrophe and sometimes without. But which is the correct way to spell it? To find out, we'll need a quick grammar lesson.

An apostrophe can do two things:

  • Stand for omitted letters.
    It is → it's
  • Form a possessive noun.
    Look at the dog's bone.

It's that second purpose that's of interest to us in this scenario. Possessive nouns show possession or a relationship between two things. It means that if we write 'Veteran's Day,' the day is dedicated to the veteran, or in other words, it belongs to the veteran.

This sounds about right, so why can't we spell it with an apostrophe?

While it would be grammatically correct to spell it with an apostrophe, when it comes to proper nouns like national holidays, we have to follow the authority's guidance on how to spell it. By that, I mean the person or institution that created it. In this case, that's the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Here's what they have to say on the subject:

Veterans Day does not include an apostrophe but does include an "s" at the end of "veterans" because it is not a day that "belongs" to veterans, it is a day for honoring all veterans.

So, in this case, the word 'veteran' acts as an attributive noun, not a possessive one. Attributive nouns function as modifiers for another noun. They work just like adjectives. Here are some other examples of attributive nouns where you'll see the attributive noun underlined. Notice that the word that follows the attributive noun is a regular noun (in bold).

John's looking flashy in his new sports car.

I'm excited for my son to begin middle school.

I'll make you chicken soup.

Why Isn't It Veterans' Day?

A third way this holiday is often spelled is with the plural possessive 'Veterans' Day.' Based on our quick grammar lesson on apostrophes, spelling it this way would mean that the day is dedicated to all veterans, or in other words, belongs to all veterans.

This is also grammatically correct, so in any other context, you'd be right to use the plural possessive in this context. However, as I mentioned earlier, because it's a national holiday, we must spell it the way it was originally intended to be spelled.

Should You Capitalize 'Veterans Day'?

You might have noticed throughout this article that I have been capitalizing the words 'Veterans' and 'Day.'

  • As far as capitalization goes, the rule is pretty straightforward: always capitalize proper nouns.
  • National holidays are considered proper nouns, and Veterans Day is a national holiday, so the words should be capitalized when you use them together.

If you use the words separately, that's a different story. 'Veteran' and 'day' on their own aren't proper nouns, so when used outside the context of a proper noun, you don't need to capitalize them.

Here are some examples of these words used as common nouns:

After serving in the army for over a decade, John became a veteran with a wealth of experience in military operations.

Monday is a busy day for meetings at the office

After years of hard work and dedication, the veteran looked forward to the day when he could retire and enjoy a peaceful life.

Both words are always capitalized to form the compound proper noun 'Veterans Day.'

Example Sentences

Now that we've covered the proper use of apostrophes and when to capitalize the words, let's look at some examples of the term in sentences.

Here they are:

Every year, communities come together to commemorate Veterans Day with parades and ceremonies to show how grateful they are.

On Veterans Day, schools often organize events to educate students about the sacrifices made by military veterans throughout history.

Businesses and organizations often show their appreciation for veterans by offering discounts and special promotions on Veterans Day.

Veterans Day serves as a poignant reminder of the bravery and commitment displayed by those who have served in the armed forces.

Many families make it a tradition to visit cemeteries and memorials on Veterans Day to pay respects to the men and women who gave their lives for their country.

Concluding Thoughts

That brings us to the end of this article about this annual celebration.

Let's summarize what we've learned:

  • This holiday is always spelled 'Veterans Day.'
  • Apostrophes show possession or a relationship between two things.
  • Although it would be grammatically correct to spell it with an apostrophe, we don't because the authority on this holiday advises us not to.
  • It's a proper noun, so the two words should be capitalized when used together.

If you'd like to learn about national holidays and how they are spelled and written, check out our dedicated blog. There, you'll find many other articles like this one, where you can learn how to spell holiday names correctly.

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Written By:
Carly Forsaith
Carly Forsaith is one of the lead freelance writers for Carly is a copywriter who has been writing about the English language for over 3 years. Before that, she was a teacher in Thailand, helping people learn English as a second language. She is a total grammar nerd and spends her time spotting language errors on signs and on the internet.

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