Veterans come from every community, corner, language, and background in the USA, but did you know that Hispanics and Latinos have participated in every major American (EE.UU.) conflict and war? In Spanish, the day is called Día de los Veteranos. This post highlights Hispanic and Latino veteran contributions and outlines some easy classroom and language-learning tie-ins as well as potential sources for building rich, primary-resource focused lessons.
What Is Veterans Day?
Veterans Day is a day when participating countries remember and celebrate military veterans and those actively serving in the armed forces, reserves, or National Guard. It differs from Memorial Day (or Día de los Caídos / Day of the Fallen), which is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service to their country.
Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day, as this was the day when the cease-fire agreement (i.e., armistice) with Germany essentially ended the hostilities of the Great War, later known as World War I. The name Veterans Day became official in the UK and the USA in the 1950s. Other countries chose the name Remembrance Day or to keep the name Armistice Day.
In the USA, UK, and some other countries, Veterans Day lands on November 11th because World War I’s hostilities ended, at least officially, on the “11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” or 11:00 AM on November 11th, 1918. Red poppies, or amapolas rojas, are a symbol of remembrance in many countries.
Fun Linguistic Note
If the first thing you wondered when you landed on this post is, “Hey! Shouldn’t there be an apostrophe on ‘Veterans’ in English?” Let me just say: Wow! You have a good eye! But, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the answer is no.
Did your inner grammar nerd just bristle a bit? Mine sure did! But, according to the original declaration for the re-naming of the day (from Armistice Day), the correct term is Veterans Day. The reason is that Veterans Day is about veterans, not “owned” by them, so no possessive punctuation is needed.
In Spanish, which doesn’t construct possessive terms in the same way that English does, the term Día de los Veteranos loosely translates as “Day of Veterans.” The question of possession is linguistically softened here, which, if you’re like me, tickles your language brain a bit.
Hispanics and Latinos in the U.S. Military
Hispanic and Latino communities are growing within the United States, and there are increasing numbers of veterans from these communities. Hispanics and Latinos have been veterans of nearly every war and conflict in the USA’s history, including the Revolutionary War.
According to the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, 1.3 million veterans are Hispanic/Latino and 314,000 Hispanics/Latinos are currently serving in the U.S. military. At least 7.2% of all veterans are Hispanic/Latino.
Below we have included some ideas for working language into Veterans Day plans and lessons. At the very bottom of the post, you’ll find a free word-match page with key Veterans Day Spanish vocabulary.
This is a great opportunity to pull out the names of countries in Spanish. For example, how do you say Great Britain or the United States in Spanish? You’ll find a very comprehensive list, as well as embedded audio pronunciations in English and Spanish, on 101Languages.net.
The quote that helps us remember the date of Armistice/Veterans Day’s is:
The 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month.
In addition to remembrance, quotes with new terms like ordinal numbers give learners, especially young ones, the opportunity to memorize and practice what they have learned. In Spanish, the same quote is:
La undécima hora del undécimo día del undécimo mes.
You might also notice that the Spanish version provides opportunity to practice correct article and gender matching.
Days like Veterans Day allow us to broaden historical contexts. We call these brain teasers. Some teachers like to use these types of thinking questions for bell work. Here are some example starters:
- Have Latinos and Hispanics participated in the USA’s wars and conflicts? If so, which ones?
- Are there parts of the United States that have belonged to other countries? If so, which parts and to whom did they belong?
Below we’ve included a free match-the-terms worksheet covering common Spanish vocabulary terms for el Día de los Veteranos. It’s a great opener for discussing static terms like la soldado. It’s also useful for visualizing singular versus plural and masculine versus feminine terms.
Other Resources and Sources
The United States government has an all-Spanish website that is a great source for vocabulary and potentially planning reading and other instructional activities. This gateway page, in particular, is focused on the U.S. Military and Veterans.
The Library of Congress maintains a Veteran’s History Project where veterans from every branch and recent conflicts and wars share their experiences in audio or video form. This is an impressive resource for building lessons and exposing learners to historic experiences by the people who lived them, including many Hispanics and Latinos. The project is best searched from this link. You can also find a teacher-focused resource page here.
Know of another resource or have a teaching idea to share? Let us know in the comments below or contact us here. As always, we love to hear from you!