Veteran’s Day History

Schools hold Veteran’s Day ceremonies that students participate
in, but few know its origin. Some of us think that Veteran’s Day
started so that Americans could honor all veterans- but that wasn’t the
case.

World
War I officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28,
1919. However, the fighting actually ceased earlier the year before, on the
eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918 (Nov. 11, 1918)
when an armistice (a temporary suspension of hostilities by agreement of the
warring parties) was signed.

A
year later on Nov. 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson announced the
first celebration of Armistice Day. “The original concept for the celebration was
for the suspension of business for a two minute period beginning at 11 A.M.
(the same time as the armistice signing the year before), with the day also
marked by parades and public meetings.” (United States. U.S. Army Center of Military History.
History of Veterans Day. 2010. Web.
<http://www.history.army.mil/html/reference/holidays/vetsday/vetshist.html>.)

On
May 13, 1938, Congress passed legislation that made Nov. 11 a Federal holiday
called “Armistice Day.” It wasn’t called Veterans Day because, during that time, people had the
celebration only to honor those who fought and died in World War I. Later, on
June 1, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation that changed
the name of the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.

In
1968, Congress passed The Uniform Holiday Bill, which was made to ensure that
Federal employees had four 3-day weekends by celebrating national holidays on
Mondays to bring in more revenue caused by an increase in traveling. This bill
caused Veteran’s Day to be changed from November 11 to October 25th.
The states were unhappy with this change and so they continued to celebrate
Veterans Day on the 11 of November.

In
1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed a law which returned the celebration of
Veterans Day back to its original date of November 11th.

In
addition, the “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” was also a result of World War I. The idea
to honor an unknown soldier first arose in Europe after WWI. In the United
States, the idea did not have a warm welcome at first. However, after many
families and veterans protested, the government finally agreed to have the
memorial erected in Arlington National Cemetery, just outside of Washington,
D.C. On November 11, 1921, an unidentified soldier who had been killed in
France was buried there in a temporary crypt. It was then dedicated as the “Tomb
of the Unknown Soldier on November 11, 1932.

Veterans
Day is for all to remember; a day to celebrate those who died for America’s
freedom. Citizens celebrate in different ways- for some, it is to have a party
in honor of their loved one. For others, it could be honoring all the unknown
soldiers if they have no loved ones who have gone to war. However your Veterans
Day is spent, just know that the people who have died for this country thank
you for honoring them- while we thank them for helping protect our country.

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