11 Things to Remember This Veterans Day

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mariusz_prusaczyk/iStock via Getty Images

Whether or not you know someone who served in the military or you served yourself, Veterans Day is a holiday worth observing. There are around 18 million veterans living in the U.S.—here are some things to remember when honoring them on November 11.

1. DON'T CONFUSE IT WITH MEMORIAL DAY.

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Memorial Day (the last Monday in May) and Veterans Day (November 11) both honor the men and women who served in our nation's military, but there's a major difference between the holidays. While Memorial Day is reserved for those who died while serving their country, Veterans Day is a time to recognize all veterans, both the dead and the living.

2. IT USED TO HAVE A DIFFERENT NAME.

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On November 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson issued an Armistice Day proclamation—a reference to the agreement made between the Allies and Germany to end World War I a year earlier. Congress would officially declare Armistice Day a federal holiday in 1938 (most states already had their own observances). In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation that officially changed the name to Veterans Day, making the holiday more inclusive of veterans who had served after and prior to the First World War.

3. THE DATE HOLDS HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE.

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Though the date changed a few times throughout the 20th century, today Veterans Day falls on November 11 of each year. The date was chosen to coincide with the anniversary of the end of World War I, which occurred "at the 11th hour of 11th day of the 11th month."

4. FEWER THAN HALF A MILLION WORLD WAR II VETERANS ARE ALIVE TODAY.

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World War II ended more than 70 years ago, but many of the veterans who fought in the war are still around to thank. According to the most recent estimates, around 450,000 of the 16 million people who fought in the Second World War are alive in 2019. But The National WWII Museum estimates that around 350 pass away each day, which is why the museum is dedicated to preserving World War II history through first-hand, oral accounts.

5. NOT EVERY VETERAN FOUGHT IN A WAR.

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Members of the military don't need to fight overseas to serve their country. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly a quarter of the veterans living in America today only served during peacetime. Military missions that don't involve war may include protecting U.S. embassies, providing natural disaster relief, and bringing medical assistance to impoverished communities.

6. THESE THREE STATES HAVE HUGE VETERAN POPULATIONS.

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There are three U.S. states whose veteran populations exceed 1 million: California with 1.56 million, Texas with 1.46 million, and Florida with 1.44 million. And the states with the highest percentage of veterans are Alaska, Virginia, Montana, Wyoming, Hawaii, and Maine, all with around 10 percent of the adult population being veterans. These numbers still make up just a fraction of the country's 18.2 million veterans, who can be found in all parts of the U.S.

7. VETERANS ARE BETTER EDUCATED.

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People who served in the military tend to have completed higher levels of education than those who have not enlisted. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 37.1 percent of U.S. veterans have completed some college or have an associate's degree and 27.7 percent have earned at least a bachelor's degree.

8. IT'S CELEBRATED IN OTHER COUNTRIES (KIND OF).

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Several countries have their own holidays recognizing veterans and those who have died in wars that fall on or around November 11. But the important day goes by a different name outside the U.S.: In Canada, it's Remembrance Day, and many in the UK observe both Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day.

9. VETERANS ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE HOMELESS.

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Despite only accounting for 7 percent of the general population, veterans make up roughly 11 percent of the adult homeless population. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans reports there are more than 40,000 veterans living without homes on any given night in the U.S. Compared with the total veteran population, younger veterans are disproportionately likely to be homeless, though there are people who have served in a range of wars—including World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, and Afghanistan and Iraq—living on the streets, with Vietnam War-era veterans accounting for nearly half the total, according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.

10. MANY LEAVE THE ARMED FORCES WITH MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES.

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Mental illness crops up in veterans at an alarmingly high rate. According to the RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research in 2008, close to one-fifth of veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan came home with either major depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. These issues can have many potential causes, but in a significant portion of veterans head injury may have been a key factor. About 7 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan vets have a mental health condition and also reported sustaining a traumatic brain injury.

11. YOU CAN SUPPORT VETERANS ANY TIME OF YEAR.

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From picking up the tab for a veteran at your local diner or driving them to a doctor's appointment, there are many small ways to show your gratitude to the veterans in your community. There are also plenty of charitable organizations dedicated to supporting veterans around the country. Here is a list of some of the veterans' groups looking for donations and volunteers.

11 Novelty Socks That Make Perfect Stocking Stuffers

Good Luck Sock/OoohYeah/Amazon
Good Luck Sock/OoohYeah/Amazon

There’s no reason socks should elicit groans when they’re given as gifts for the holidays. If you know where to look, you can find ones that reflect the tastes and personality of the person you’re shopping for. In addition to being a form of self-expression, they're also practical. Chances are that nearly all of the loved ones on your list could use an extra set. We pulled together a group of fun and colorful novelty socks that are perfect for Star Wars fans, Disney villain lovers, hikers, and everyone in between.

1. Injinji Toe Socks; $12

Toe socks
Injinji / Amazon

Toe socks are more than funky-looking footwear. They also reduce blisters, wick sweat, and align the foot in a way that’s more natural than conventional socks. That’s why Injinji chose the style for its running socks. They’re great for working out, or just lounging around the house and feeling comfortable.

Buy It: Amazon

2. Seirus Heatwave Socks; $30

Heatwave socks.
Seirus Innovation / Amazon

When hiking in the dead of winter, even the thickest wool socks aren’t always enough to keep your toes warm. Seirus’s Heatwave socks use a high-tech design to trap the heat from your foot inside your shoes. The “kinetic heat return system” converts the energy you generate into heat that gets reflected back onto your body. They’re knit from a blend of spandex and polyester, so they can stretch to maximize the insulation of any size shoe.

Buy It: Amazon

3. Star Wars Starry Night Socks; $39

Star Wars Starry Night socks.
Amazon

This five-pack of socks reimagines your favorite Star Wars characters in a post-impressionist art style. Darth Vader, Boba Fett, Yoda, a Stormtrooper, and R2-D2 along with C-3PO are all represented against a swirling background reminiscent of Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night.

Buy It: Amazon

4. Studio Ghibli Socks; $12

Studio Ghibli socks.
Amazon

If you know a Studio Ghibli fan that can’t pick a favorite movie, this sock pack is for them. Each pair in the set of four features characters from a different movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki, including Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and My Neighbor Totoro.

Buy It: Amazon

5. Christmas Sweater Dinosaur Socks; $10

Dinosaur socks.
Amazon

If you don’t think the person you’re shopping for would commit to wearing a full ugly Christmas sweater, buy them these socks. The festive apparel features dinosaurs like T. rex and Stegosaurus sporting knitwear for the holidays.

Buy It: Amazon

6. Takeout Sushi Socks; $20

Sushi socks in a box.
Amazon

The creative presentation of these socks makes them a great gift for the holidays. They come rolled like sushi and nigiri and are packaged in a classic plastic takeout box—fake green grass included. When they’re unraveled, the socks show off the patterns and color palettes of the sushi pieces.

Buy It: Amazon

7. Bob Ross Socks; $12

Bob Ross socks.
Amazon

Bob Ross’s “happy little accidents” saying originally referred to his painting, but it also makes for a sensible life philosophy. With these socks, wearers can carry the mantra—along with the artist’s glorious perm—on their feet wherever they go.

Buy It: Amazon

8. Stranger Things Socks; $7

Stranger Things socks.
Hot Topic

The striped design of these crew socks already makes them feel like they’re ripped right from the 1980s. The Stranger Things logo and the silhouette of Mike and Eleven on a bike, à la E.T., perfectly complements the retro style.

Buy It: Hot Topic

9. Smartwool Socks; $22

Smartwool socks.
Smartwool

All of the socks from Smartwool are made from Merino wool—a material that keeps feet dry, warm, and odor-free without compromising softness. Their socks are perfect for outdoors as well as staying comfortable in your day-to-day life. If you know the person you’re shopping for well enough, you can fill out a quick survey with their preferences for length, thickness, and outdoor activities to find the best socks for them.

Buy It: Smartwool

10. Disney Villain Socks; $15

Disney villain socks.
Hot Topic

This is the gift for your one friend who shrugs off the classic Disney heroes and instead embraces the company's villainous side. These socks feature the faces of classic evildoers like Ursula, Cruella de Vil, and Maleficent, along with each villain’s catchphrase. Five pairs are included in a pack.

Buy It: Hot Topic

11. Dreidel Dog Socks; $8

Dreidel dog socks.
Amazon

Celebrate this Hanukkah by giving the gift of cuteness. These socks, featuring a delightful combination of puppies and dreidels, come in blue or black.

Buy It: Amazon

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12 Turkey Cooking Tips From Real Chefs

To get a turkey this beautiful, follow the tips below.
To get a turkey this beautiful, follow the tips below.
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When it comes to cooking a juicy, flavorful turkey, the nation's chefs aren’t afraid to fly in the face of tradition. Here are a few of their top suggestions worth trying this holiday season.

1. Buy a Fresh Turkey.

Most home cooks opt for a frozen turkey, but chef Sara Moulton recommends buying fresh. The reason: Muscle cells damaged by ice crystals lose fluid while the turkey thaws and roasts, making it easier to end up with a dried-out bird. For those who stick with a frozen turkey, make sure to properly thaw the bird—one day in the fridge for every 4-5 pounds.

2. Buy a Smaller Bird—or Two.

Idealizing the big, fat Thanksgiving turkey is a mistake, according to numerous chefs. Large birds take more time to cook, which can dry out the meat. Wolfgang Puck told Lifescript he won’t cook a bird larger than 16 pounds, while Travis Lett recommends going even smaller and cooking two or three 8-pound birds.

3. Brine That Turkey.


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Brining a turkey adds flavor, and it allows salt and sugar to seep deep into the meat, helping it retain moisture as the bird cooks. You can opt for a basic brine like the one chef Chris Shepherd recommends, which calls for one cup sugar, one cup salt, five gallons of water, and a three-day soak. Or, try something less traditional, like Michael Solomonov’s Mediterranean brine, which includes allspice, black cardamom, and dill seed. One challenge is finding a container big enough to hold a bird and all the liquid. Chef Stephanie Izard of Chicago’s Girl and the Goat recommends using a Styrofoam cooler.

4. Or, Try a Dry Brine.

If the thought of dunking a turkey in five gallons of seasoned water doesn’t appeal to you, a dry brine could be the ticket. It’s essentially a meat rub that you spread over the bird and under the skin. Salt should be the base ingredient, and to that you can add dried herbs, pepper, citrus and other seasonings. Judy Rodgers, a chef at San Francisco’s Zuni Café before her death in 2013, shared this dry rub recipe with apples, rosemary, and sage. In addition to a shorter prep time, chefs say a dry brine makes for crispier skin and a nice, moist interior.

5. Bring the Turkey to Room Temperature First.

Don’t move your bird straight from the fridge to the oven. Let it sit out for two to three hours first. Doing this, according to Aaron London of Al’s Place in San Francisco, lets the bones adjust to room temperature so that when roasted, it "allows the bones to hold heat like little cinder blocks, cooking the turkey from the inside out."

6. Cut Up Your Turkey Before Cooking.

This might sound like sacrilege to traditional cooks and turkey lovers. But chefs insist it’s the only way to cook a full-size bird through and through without drying out the meat. Chef Marc Murphy, owner of Landmarc restaurants in New York, told the Times he roasts the breast and the legs separately, while chef R.B. Quinn prefers to cut his turkeys in half before cooking them. Bobby Flay, meanwhile, strikes a balance: "I roast the meat until the breasts are done, and then cut off the legs and thighs. The breasts can rest, and you can cook off the legs in the drippings left in the pan."

7. Cook the Stuffing on the Side of the Turkey.

A traditional stuffing side dish for Thanksgiving in a baking pan
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Many chefs these days advise against cooking stuffing inside the turkey. The reason? Salmonella. "With the stuffing being in the middle, a lot of blood drips into it and if everything in the middle doesn't come to temperature then you're at risk," chef Charles Gullo told the Chicago Tribune. TV host Alton Brown echoed this advice, and writes that it’s very difficult to bring the stuffing to a safe 165 degrees without overcooking the bird. (You can check out some more tips to prevent food poisoning on Thanksgiving here.)

8. Butter Up That Bird.

No matter if you’ve chosen a dry brine, a wet brine, or no brine at all, turkeys need a helping of butter spread around the outside and under the skin. Thomas Keller, founder of The French Laundry, recommends using clarified butter. "It helps the skin turn extra-crispy without getting scorched," he told Epicurious.

9. Use Two Thermometers.

A quality meat thermometer is a must, chefs say. When you use it, make sure to take the temperature in more than one spot on the bird, checking to see that it’s cooked to at least 165 degrees through and through. Also, says Diane Morgan, author of The New Thanksgiving Table, you should know the temperature of your oven, as a few degrees can make the difference between a well-cooked bird and one that’s over- or under-done.

10. Turn Up the Heat.

If you’ve properly brined your meat, you don't need to worry about high heat sucking the moisture out, chefs say. Keller likes to cook his turkey at a consistent 450 degrees. This allows the bird to cook quickly, and creates a crisp shell of reddish-brown skin. Ruth Reichl, the famed magazine editor and author, seconds this method, but warns that your oven needs to be squeaky clean, otherwise leftover particles could smoke up.

11. Baste Your Turkey—But Don't Overdo It.

Man basting a turkey
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Spreading juices over top the turkey would seem to add moisture, no? Not necessarily. According to chef Marc Vogel, basting breaks the caramelized coating that holds moisture in. The more you do it, the more time moisture has to seep out of the turkey. Also, opening the oven releases its heat, and requires several minutes to stabilize afterward. It's not really an either/or prospect, chefs agree. Best to aim somewhere in the middle: Baste every 30 minutes while roasting.

12. Let It Rest.

Allowing a turkey to rest after it’s cooked lets the juices redistribute throughout the meat. Most chefs recommend at least 30 minutes’ rest time. Famed chef and TV personality Gordon Ramsey lets his turkey rest for a couple hours. "It may seem like a long time, but the texture will be improved the longer you leave the turkey to rest," Ramsey told British lifestyle site Good to Know. "Piping hot gravy will restore the heat."

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