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History of Veterans Day

Rick Patrick - Greene Publishing, Inc.

“Armistice Day' was first commemorated in November, 1919, marking the first anniversary of the cease-fire that effectively brought an end to World War I or “The Great War” as it was called at the time. That armistice went into effect at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. World War I officially came to an end with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919.

In his proclamation of this first Armistice Day, President Woodrow Wilson said, “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 nations.”

In May of 1938, an Act of Congress made November 11th of each year a legal holiday and a day dedicated to the cause of world peace. It was to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.” This day was originally set aside to honor the veterans of World War I, but in 1954, the 83rd Congress amended the 1938 Act by striking out the word “Armistice” and replacing it with the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor all American veterans of all wars.

In June of 1968, Veterans Day was moved to Monday as part of the Uniform Holiday Bill. The purpose of this bill was to give Federal employees a three day weekend by celebrating four national holidays, to include Veterans Day, on Monday. This caused much confusion when Veterans Day was first celebrated on Oct. 25, 1971 under this new law. In Sept. 1975, President Gerald Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which returned Veterans Day to its original date of Nov. 11th, beginning in 1978.

To this day, Veterans Day continues to be observed on Nov. 11th. This not only preserves the historical significance of this date, but focuses attention on the purpose of the day. To honor America's veterans for their service, love of country, patriotism, and willingness to sacrifice for the common good.

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