As I researched the history of Veterans Day I found that not only had the name been changed from one thing to another in the United States, but that the celebration, too, had changed from its initial intent. Not only THAT, but I also always thought it was written with an apostrophe (Veterans’ Day) and found that this was incorrect – Veterans’ Day meaning a day that belongs to Veterans and Veterans Day (sans apostrophe) meaning a day honoring Veterans. I won’t argue the point, but let me just say that it’s going to be awfully difficult for me to let go of that apostrophe…I’ve always felt November 11th belongs to all those who have served and currently serve our country. Anyhow…….
Originally known as Armistice Day, it was the day, the date, the time, bringing armistice, also known as a temporary halting of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany – going into effect at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month during WWI; though the actual “Treaty of Versailles” was not signed until June 28, 1919.
In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11th 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…”
For All Veterans Who Serve(d)
Officially and originally set aside as a legal holiday on May 13, 1938, it became clear in 1954, after WWII had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen in our Nation’s history, and then following with American forces fighting in Korea, that this ‘Act of 1938’, at the urging of veterans services, was amended to insert the word Veterans in place of Armistice. Effective June 1, 1954, November 11th officially became the day to honor ALL American veterans of all wars.
There was a point that President Eisenhower signed a uniform holiday bill on June 28, 1968. At the time this was intended to ensure 3-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. It was quite apparent that the commemoration of this day was a matter of historic and patriotic significance to a great number of our citizens, and so on September 20th, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed a public law which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, to begin in 1978. This action supported the desires of the overwhelming majority of state legislatures, all major Veterans service organizations and the American people.
Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week 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: A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.