One of the most important days in the history of the world
Veterans Day, Nov. 11, also marks the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. On Nov. 11, 1918 the Germans signed the Armistice, bringing an end to the hostilities of WW I. This year we observe Veterans Day on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010.
In Nov. of 1919, President Woodrow Wilson issued his Armistice Day proclamation, setting the tone for future observances:
"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 nation."
In 1938 Congress passed a bill that each Nov. 11 "shall be dedicated to the cause of world peace and ...hereafter celebrated and known as Armistice Day."
After WW II, there were many new veterans who had little or no association with WW I. The word, "armistice," means simply a truce; therefore as years passed, the significance of the name of this holiday changed. Leaders of Veterans' groups decided to try to correct this and make Nov. 11 the time to honor all who had fought in various American wars, not just in World War I.
In Emporia, Kansas, on November 11, 1953, instead of an Armistice Day program, there was a Veterans' Day observance. Ed Rees, of Emporia, was so impressed that he introduced a bill into the House to change the name to Veterans' Day. After it's passage, Rees wrote every state governor asking for their approval and cooperation in observing the changed holiday.
In 1954 Congress official changed the name of the holiday to Veterans' Day. For a brief period (1971-1977), the holiday was celebrated on the fourth Monday in October, but Congress reverted back to Nov. 11 in 1978.
The observance has since evolved as a time for honoring living veterans who have served in the military during wartime or peacetime.