​​To recognize the service and sacrifice of the men and women who have served our country, the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs is honored to host and attend various ceremonies and recognition events. We also pay tribute to America's heroes on annual veterans recognition days.​

In 2015 and 2016, we invite you to participate in Operation Welcome Home​, an effort to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. We hope you will join us in recognizing and thanking America's Vietnam veterans.​

​​For a list of upcoming events, please visit our home page.​ 

Annual Days of Recognition

The United States Congress chose March 25th when it designated a National Medal of Honor Day as the first Medal of Honor awards were made to six members of Andrew's Raiders during the Civil War on March 25, 1863. 2009 Wisconsin Act 144 enacted on March 3, 2010 creates an annual Wisconsin Medal of Honor Day.

The Medal of Honor is the highest military award for bravery that can be conferred on a member of the American armed forces. From the Civil War through the Vietnam War there have been 62 citizens of Wisconsin to receive the Medal of Honor.
To recognize the 1,239 Wisconsin armed forces members who are listed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., and to express pride and gratitude to the veterans of that war, March 29 is designated as “Vietnam Veterans Day” in Wisconsin. The governor shall issue annually a suitable proclamation for the observance of “Vietnam Veterans Day” and request that some portion of the day be used to recall the Vietnam veterans’ accomplishments and to thank those veterans for their service during that war.
Each year, April 9th is set aside to honor the commitment and the sacrifices made by this nation's Prisoners of War. April 9th commemorates the date during World War II in 1942 when the largest number of Americans were captured in the Conquest of Bataan. Thousands of these prisoners died in captivity due to the infamous Bataan Death March and other inhumane treatment at the hands of the enemy.
Pursuant to 2001 Wisconsin Act 20, the State of Wisconsin has declared that April 9th should be annually designated as Prisoners of War Remembrance Day in Wisconsin to recognize the sacrifices of those persons who suffered captivity in foreign countries while in active service with the U.S. Armed Forces.

In the United States, Armed Forces Day is celebrated on the third Saturday in May. It falls near the end of Armed Forces Week, which begins on the second Saturday of May and ends on the third Sunday of May.

First observed on 20 May 1950, the day was created on 31 August 1949, to honor Americans serving in the five U.S. military branches. On August 31, 1949, the Secretary of announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force Days. The single day celebration stemmed from the unification of the Armed Forces under the Department of Defense.

Memorial Day began to honor the soldiers who died during the Civil War. Originally known as Decoration Day, it was first officially declared May 5, 1868 by a proclamation of Major General John A. Logan, the first President of the Grand Army of the Republic, by General Order No. 11 declaring May 30th as the day of observance.

After World War I, Memorial Day began to honor the fallen from all American wars. It wasn't until 1971 that Congress made Memorial Day a national holiday to be observed on the last Monday of May. On December 28, 2000, President William Clinton signed the "National Moment of Remembrance Act," which designates 3:00 p.m. on Memorial Day each year as the National Moment of Remembrance, in honor of the men and women of the United States who have died in pursuit of peace and freedom. Additionally, the Act created a White House commission on the National Moment of Remembrance to coordinate and encourage Memorial Day events.

Memorial Day Flag Etiquette: On Memorial Day the U.S. flag should be flown at half-staff from sunrise until noon only, then raised briskly to the top of the staff until sunset, in honor of the nation’s battle heroes. To display the flag at half-staff, hoist it to the peak for an instant and lower it to a position half-way between the top and bottom of the staff.

Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July or July Fourth, is a federal holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from Great Britain.

During the American Revolution, the legal separation of the Thirteen Colonies from Great Britain occurred on July 2, 1776, when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence that had been proposed in June by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia declaring the United States independent from Great Britain. After voting for independence, Congress turned its attention to the Declaration of Independence, a statement explaining this decision, which had been prepared by a Committee of Five, with Thomas Jefferson as its principal author. Congress debated and revised the wording of the Declaration, finally approving it on July 4.

September 11th of each year is a day set aside by federal law as “Patriot Day,” in honor of the individuals who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks against the United States that occurred on September 11, 2001.

By Presidential proclamation and Gubernatorial Executive Order both the U.S. flag and the flag of the State of Wisconsin are to be flown at half-staff on September 11, "Patriot Day," from sunrise until sunset.

A moment of silence should be observed at 7:46 a.m. central daylight time (8:46 a.m. EDT), the time of the first attack hitting its intended target on September 11, 2001, in honor of the individuals who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks on that day.

Each year, the third Friday in September is set aside to honor the commitment and the sacrifices made by this nation's Prisoners of War and those who are still Missing in Action, as well as their families.
Pursuant to 2001 Wisconsin Act 100, the State of Wisconsin has declared that the third Friday of September should be annually designated as POW/MIA Recognition Day in Wisconsin.

National POW/MIA Recognition Day legislation was introduced yearly, until 1995, when it was deemed by Congress that legislation designating special commemorative days would no longer be considered by Congress. The President now signs a proclamation each year.

National POW/MIA Recognition Day is one of the six days specified by federal law on which the black POW/MIA flag shall be flown over federal facilities and cemeteries, post offices and military installations.

POW/MIA Facts:
Of the 125,214 Americans surviving captivity, about 29,350 were estimated to be alive as of the end of 2005. Records show that 142,246 Americans were captured and interned during World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the Somalia and Kosovo conflicts, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

More than 78,000 Americans are unaccounted for from WWII, more than 8,100 American servicemen from the Korean War, and at the end of the Vietnam War, there reportedly were 2,583 unaccounted for American prisoners, missing or killed in action/body not recovered.

As of September 1, 2006, 1,798 Americans are still so listed by the Defense Department, over 90% of them in Vietnam or in areas of Laos and Cambodia where Vietnamese forces operated during the war. One hundred twenty-six Americans are still listed as missing in action and unaccounted-for from the Cold War.


World War I officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919. However, the fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.” The following year, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day, saying "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.” The original conception of Armistice Day called for parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business at 11:00 am.

In May 1938, an act passed declaring November 11th a legal holiday dedicated to the cause of peace and to be celebrated and known as Armistice Day. In 1954, after the United States had mobilized troops for World War II and the Korean War, the 83rd Congress amended that act by replacing the word armistice with the word veterans. Thus November 11th became known as Veterans Day, a day to honor veterans of all wars. In October 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first Veterans Day Proclamation and created a Veterans Day Committee to coordinate the planning for Veterans Day activities.

With the passage of the Uniforms Holiday Bill in 1968, the observance of Veterans Day was moved to a Monday. October 25, 1971, was the first Veterans Day not celebrated on November 11th. Due to the historic and patriotic significance of November 11th, President Gerald R. Ford signed a law in 1975 returning the day to November 11, beginning in 1978.

Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of the day of the week on which it falls, preserving the significance of the date. It also focuses attention on the true purpose of Veterans Day:  a celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

Much of what our country and our lives are like today was shaped by events that occurred on December 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor.

In the two years before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, our European allies were—one by one—falling before the Nazi war machine. By 1941, only England remained free. To our west, Japanese military forces were steamrolling across the Pacific Rim.

Over the course of a quiet Sunday morning on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, the United States of America passed from precarious neutrality to all-out war. It was a war fought on every continent of the globe. And it touched the lives of all who lived at that time.

The Second World War came to America in the form of a sudden and massive air assault by Japanese Imperial forces. Early in the morning 183 Japanese fighter planes took off from aircraft carriers in the Pacific Ocean. They used broadcasts from Honolulu radio stations to help them navigate. The planes arrived off the coast of the island of Oahu, Hawaii, shortly before 8:00 in the morning. Radar at Pearl Harbor had picked up the fleet, but the Americans assumed the planes were B-17 bombers coming from California. Bombs began to drop over the docks at Pearl Harbor along "battleship row." Approximately an hour later 168 more planes appeared dropping more bombs.

The assault claimed 2,403 American lives and left more than a thousand others wounded. The mighty battleship Arizona sustained a direct hit by an armor-piercing bomb, and nine minutes later went down with 1,177 sailors and marines entombed in its hull forever.

Later that morning, when the Japanese fighter planes finally turned out to sea, eight battleships had been sunk or heavily damaged along with many cruisers and destroyers.

American airpower, too, was crippled. More than 325 planes—clustered wing-to-wing on the Harbor’s surrounding airfields—were destroyed. Within a matter of hours, the bulk of America’s naval and air power in the Pacific lay in smoldering ruin.

The devastation left the nation stunned and shaken to its core.

For the people of the United States of America, December 7, 1941 marked the first of 1,351 days of war. It mobilized 16 million young Americans. Almost three hundred thousand of them would die in battle. And more that 600,000 would become its casualties. December 7, 1941 was a defining moment in our nation’s history. As then-President Franklin Roosevelt told the country, it was indeed “a day that will live in infamy.”​

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