This Wednesday is Veterans Day. It means, for some, a paid day off and yet another holiday that retailers see the need to use to bring in business. But what is Veterans Day really? Of course the name is a giveaway; a day to honor all of the brave men and women that have fought for our country through our history. I don’t remember if I ever learned the background of how the holiday began. I also never had an interest in history as a child. That’s something I’ve developed an interest in as I’ve gotten older and have lived through things that has and will be taught in schools. It’s personal now. Anyway, I decided to do some research (after a brief lesson from my history buff son) about the day of observance. Now, I bring you what I found. You’re welcome.
The following information, most of which is directly copied in this post and some of which edited by me to get to the point, comes from the Office of Public Affairs website (http://www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/vetdayhistory.asp):
[World War I officially ended on June 28, 1919, outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”
In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “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…”
An Act approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.” Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
The Uniform Holiday Bill was signed on June 28, 1968, and was intended to ensure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. It was thought that these extended weekends would encourage travel, recreational and cultural activities and stimulate greater industrial and commercial production. Many states did not agree with this decision and continued to celebrate the holidays on their original dates.
The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on October 25, 1971. Many citizens knew the historic significance of the holiday, and so on September 20th, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97, which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978.
Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.]
So there you have it. A history lesson on the creation and observance of Veterans Day. The moral of the story: we hope that each and every one of you take the time to remember those that have bravely and selflessly fought for the freedoms we often take for granted. Thank a veteran, a current soldier, make a donation or visit a VA home. And please feel free to see the stories we brought to you last year for Veterans Day week by clicking here. If there’s someone you’d like us to remember, please feel free to post them in the comments section. Thank you Veterans! We appreciate you.