A Brief History of Veterans Day in the U.S.

The significance of November 11 started with the unofficial end of World War I, which happened when the Allied nations and Germany implemented a temporary cessation of war hostilities– also known as an “armistice.” This armistice went into effect on November 11, 1918, at 11:00am. Seven months later the treaty of Versailles was signed and WWI was officially over. At the time it was the greatest war the world had ever seen, so it is also known as the Great War. Its ending had a deep impact on the citizens of the U.S and abroad, as people thought it would be “the war to end all wars.”

In 1919, Woodrow Wilson was the first president to recognize the new day by proclaiming it Armistice Day. He said that the day was meant for “pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory” of the war. Armistice Day was meant to be honored by closing down business for a two minute period beginning at 11:00am, as well as holding parades and having speeches.

Armistice Day was recognized by the states as a legal holiday in 1926, and it wasn’t until 12 years later, in 1938, that Congress declared November 11 a legal Federal holiday.

So how did Armistice Day become Veteran’s Day? After WWII and the Korean War created millions more war veterans, President Eisenhower changed the name of the legal holiday in 1954 to “Veteran’s Day,” in order to honor and recognize new veterans from these wars.

In 1968, Congress passed the Monday Holiday Law—they moved Federal holidays to the first Monday after the actual date, to give Federal employees a longer weekend in hopes that people would travel and participate in recreational and cultural activities, which would stimulate the economy.

Many states & veterans service organizations did not agree with this new law, since Armistice Day had significant historical meaning to U.S. citizens. In response to this, President Gerald Ford returned the observance of Veteran’s day to the original November 11 date, beginning in 1978.

Every year on November 11, national ceremonies for veterans past and present take place to honor their willingness to serve and to sacrifice for the common good.Today is a day that should be honored for all forgotten vets, remembered vets, vets from our standing wars, and vets from our old wars.

For events concerning Veterans Day in Denver, click here! Events are going on all week.


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