This week, we commemorate Veterans Day, honoring American veterans of all wars. It's a day steeped in history that also shows how history can take a few twists and turns.

Veterans Day started out as Armistice Day, marking the end of hostilities in what started out as the Great War but eventually got relabeled as World War I when it turned out that it was not the "war to end all wars" as many had hoped it would be.

When President Eisenhower signed HR 7786 changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day in 1954, the idea was to honor all American veterans-not just those who served in World War I. Later, someone suggested that Veterans Day, along with Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day and Columbus Day, should be celebrated on a Monday to create the much beloved three-day weekend.

Not Just Any Holiday

While that seemed to work out fine for those other holidays, a hue and cry went out to return Veterans Day to Nov. 11 every year, regardless of the day of the week on which it falls.

The idea was to preserve the historical significance of the date and to focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day. But the unfortunate reality is that many of us will, in fact, go to work on Nov. 11, perhaps not even remembering it's a holiday. Indeed, most credit union branches will be open for business.

But it should come as no surprise that some credit unions that specifically serve the military will close at least some of their branches that day. Pentagon FCU, for example, will close most of its branches, keeping some open for limited hours, while its headquarters will be observing the 239th birthday of the Marine Corps the day before Veterans Day.

What likely will come as a surprise is that credit unions operating branches on or near military bases recently got their hands slapped by a Pew Charitable Trusts study suggesting some of these CUs haven't always done right by the soldiers they serve- an idea the Defense Credit Union Council strenuously rejects (see related story).

But elsewhere, credit unions continue to be hailed as a good deal, and especially for members of the military. CardHub, a credit card comparison website, "decided to examine how different financial institutions are choosing to give back to the brave men and women who risk their lives fighting for our freedom."

The firm compared more than 1,000 credit card offers to determine which provide the best deals that are specially targeted at the military. CardHub also asked some of the largest financial institutions what other types of programs they offer military

Guess who came out on top?

A Credit Union Sweep

Pentagon FCU earned shout-outs for "best everyday rewards" on its PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card and its PenFed Defender American Express Card, as well as for "best airline rewards" on its PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express Card.

PenFed also won recognition in the "best for low rates" category on its PenFed Defender American Express Card.

Not to be outdone, Navy FCU was cited for "best everyday rewards" for its Navy Federal Credit Union Flagship Rewards Credit Card and "best for credit building" for its Navy Federal Credit Union Rewards Secured Credit Card.

In fact, Navy Fed and PenFed swept the awards. And since CardHub was only looking at the largest credit card issuers, no doubt there are any number of smaller defense credit unions out there with great deals for their members, as well.

While some might forget to pause on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, it's a sure bet the credit unions founded to serve our military men and women won't.

Editor in Chief Lisa Freeman can be reached at