U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
During World War I, the armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, declared on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, is regarded as the end of the “war to end all wars,” and is now commemorated with the celebration of Veteran’s Day each year on November 11. Britain, France, Australia, and Canada also commemorate the veterans of World Wars I and II on or near November 11th.
|General Foch, France and General Erzberger, Germany|
signed the armistice aboard the Orient Express
Even though “The Great War” officially ended on June 28, 1919, with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, the signing of the armistice the previous November marked the end of the war in most people’s minds. In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11, to be the first commemoration of Armistice Day. His words were as follows: “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…” (www.va.gov)
|Soldiers of the 353rd Infantry near a church at Stenay, Meuse in France wait for the end of hostilities.|
10:58 a.m. November 11, 1918
The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I and passed a resolution on June 4, 1926, stating that the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States had already declared November 11, to be a legal holiday and requested that the President of the United States issue a proclamation to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings each November 11th and invite all people of the United States to observe the day in schools, churches, and other suitable places with ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.
An Act approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday dedicated to the cause of world peace and known as “Armistice Day.” Originally Armistice Day was a day honoring veterans of World War I. After World War II required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history, and American forces had fought in Korea, the 83rd Congress amended the Act of 1938 by replacing the word “Armistice” with the word “Veterans,” and upon approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, Veterans Day became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
|President Eisenhower signing HR7786, changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day|
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Under the Uniform Holidays Bill passed by Congress in 1968, four national holidays (Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day) were to be celebrated on Mondays allowing federal employees to now have three-day weekends for touring or travel. Veterans Day was now set as the fourth Monday in October, the first under this law being October 25, 1971. Many states continued to observe the holiday on its original date showing their disapproval of the change which only caused confusion. Since the original date held historic and patriotic significance among many Americans, in 1978, President Gerald R. Ford signed a new law moving Veterans Day back to November 11. If the day November 11, is a Saturday or Sunday, the federal government observes the holiday the previous Friday or following Monday, respectively.
|The Three Soldiers Memorial|
Artist: Frederick Hart
National Mall, Washington, D.C.
Millions of Americans have fought since the beginning of the Revolutionary War to obtain and maintain freedom in our lives. We honor the veterans and their families today for their duty and their sacrifice. Today on Veterans Day we remember and acknowledge all who have served and are serving our country now. Through your service you have served each and every American. God bless our troops, both past and present for all that you have done.
Leave a comment about someone you know who has served our country and where they lived when they first enlisted.