Jordan Stowe - Managing Editor
Veterans Day is a U.S. holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars. In 1918, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in World War I, then known as “the Great War.” Commemorated in many countries as Armistice Day the following year, November 11th became a federal holiday in the United States in 1938. In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became known as Veterans Day.
Some get confused between Memorial day and Veterans Day. So to put it straight Memorial Day (the fourth Monday in May) honors American servicemembers who died in service to their country or as a result of injuries incurred during battle, while Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans living or dead but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.
When the holiday started it was called Armistice Day. The Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, marking the official end of World War I. Nonetheless, the armistice date of November 11, 1918, remained in the public imagination as the date that marked the end of the conflict.
One year later, in November 1919, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. The day’s observation included parades and public gatherings, as well as a brief pause in business and school activities at 11 a.m.
On June 4, 1926, Congress passed a resolution that the “recurring anniversary of (November 11, 1918) should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations,” and that the president should issue an annual proclamation calling for the observance of Armistice Day.
From Armistice Day to Veterans Day. American effort during World War II saw the greatest mobilization of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force in the nation’s history. In 1954, after lobbying efforts by veterans’ service organizations, the 83rd U.S. Congress amended the 1938 act that had made Armistice Day a holiday, striking the word “Armistice” in favor of “Veterans.” President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the legislation on June 1, 1954. From then on, November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
In the United States, an official wreath-laying ceremony is held each Veterans Day at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, while parades and other celebrations are held in states around the country. We remember and thank the soldiers who fought for our country so that we may be able to have a home for the brave and land for the free.