Veterans Day History

Post date: Nov 12, 2011 1:22:46 AM

In the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the First World War. Although the Treaty of Versailles was signed June 28, 1919, officially ending "The Great War," it was that hour in November 1918 that marked the end of war.

In November 1918, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. On May 13, 1938, the 11th of November in each year was declared a legal holiday; "a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as 'Armistice Day.'

World War II (1941-1945) saw the greatest mobilization of the U.S. military in the nation's history (more than 16 million); 5.7 million more served in the Korean War (1950-1953). As a result of lobbying efforts of veterans' service organizations, the 83rd U.S. Congress amended the 1938 act, striking the word "Armistice" in favor of "Veterans." President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed this legislation on June 1, 1954. From then on, November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill whereby four national holiday observances would fall on a Monday to ensure a three-day weekend particularly for federal employees and to encourage tourism and travel. Veterans Day was then celebrated on the fourth Monday in October with the first observance effective October 25, 1971. This practice generated confusion as many states chose to continue observance of Veterans Day on November 11.

In 1975, realizing November 11 carried historical and patriotic significance, President Gerald R. Ford signed a new law returning the observation of Veterans Day to November 11, beginning in 1978.

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