Sometimes, practicality must give way to principle. Such is the case with Veterans Day, which universities ought to have honored by canceling classes yesterday.

Government offices, banks and many businesses were closed across the country Monday in observation of the holiday, which occurs Nov. 11 and fell on a Sunday this year. While the parades and memorials had come and gone, the day off sends an important statement — not as a free day to play hooky but as a time to pay additional tribute to those who have served in the military.

Some colleges, such as Howard University in D.C. and Harvard University, were closed Monday. But many schools, including Georgetown, went about business as usual. The assumed rationale for doing so is understandable: Thanksgiving break is a week away, class time is valuable as the semester winds down and Georgetown took Columbus Day off one month ago.

It sends a bad message, however, to suggest that a preferred semester scheduling takes precedent over a national holiday that honors men and women who have served this country. Many students were oblivious to the fact that Veterans Day even took place, and a day off from school draws attention to this somber occasion while showing our appreciation for students and alumni who have served in uniform. It’s also worth noting that Memorial Day — the national holiday that remembers those who have died while serving in the military — occurs after the conclusion of final exams in May, preventing the student body from observing it as a university.

If a day honoring a Spaniard for reaching the Americas merits this recognition, so too does a holiday with the significance and sentiment of Veterans Day.

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