From U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Do you know where Veterans Day comes from?
Amid Halloween, Daylight Saving time, elections and Thanksgiving, Veterans Day can sometimes fall to the wayside.
This year, it'll be celebrated Sunday, Nov. 11 – but where did Veterans Day originate?
World War I officially ended in June 1919 when the Treaty of Versailles was signed. Fighting ground to a halt seven months earlier, in November 1918, when an armistice (a 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.
Nov. 11, 1918 became known as the end of “the war to end all wars.”
A year later, in November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson declared Nov. 11 the first commemoration of Armistice Day, intended to be celebrated with parades, public meetings and a brief suspension of business at 11 a.m.
U.S. Congress went on to recognize the end of WWI when it passed a resolution years later on June 4, 1926, indicating Nov. 11, 1918 marked “the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed.”
At that point, 27 states already accepted Nov. 11 as a holiday. Wilson called upon officials to display the U.S. flag on all government buildings and invited the nation to observe the day in schools, churches, or other suitable places, with “appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations” on that day.
In 1938, an act was passed to declare Nov. 11 a legal holiday across the U.S. – the day was to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.”
Armistice Day honored WWI veterans. But in 1956, following WWII and the Korean War, the 83rd Congress amended the act. They changed the holiday's name from Armistice Day to “Veterans Day” in order to honor U.S. veterans of all wars.
Veterans Day continues to be observed on Nov. 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, it “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.”