Veterans Day 2018 will be the 100th anniversary of the signing of the armistice, which ended World War I.
Veterans Day celebrates the service of all United States military veterans who have fought and who continue to fight today. Previously known as Armistice Day, Veterans Day is observed annually on November 11.
The history of Veterans Day dates to the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when a truce, or an armistice, between Germany and the Allied Nations came into effect, bringing an end to World War I. On November 11, 1919, Armistice Day was proclaimed by President Wilson and commemorated United States’ veterans who served in World War I for the first time. In 1926, the United States Congress officially recognized November 11 as the end of World War I and declared that day as the anniversary of the armistice.
The American effort during World War II saw the greatest mobilization of the United States Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force in the nation’s history (more than 16 million people); some 5.7 million more served in the Korean War. In 1954, after lobbying efforts by veterans’ service organizations, the 83rd U.S. Congress amended the 1938 act that made Armistice Day a holiday, striking the word “Armistice” in favor of “Veterans”. President Eisenhower signed the legislation on June 1, 1954. From then on Armistice Day officially became known as Veterans’ Day and therefore, became a holiday honoring American veterans of all wars.
The next chapter in the story of Veterans Day unfolded in 1968, when Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill, which sought to ensure 3-day weekends for federal employees. This idea was to encourage tourism and travel by celebrating 4 national holidays (Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day) on Mondays. The observation of Veterans Day was set as the 4th Monday in October. The first Veterans Day under the new law was Monday, October 25, 1971; confusion ensued, as many states disapproved of this change, and continued to observe the holiday on its original day.
In 1975, after it became evident that the actual date of Veterans Day carried historical and patriotic significance to many Americans, President Ford signed a new law returning the observation of Veterans Day to November 11th beginning in 1978. If November 11 falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the federal government observes the holiday on the previous Friday or following Monday, respectively.
Traditionally, Veterans Day is viewed as a time of honor and remembrance. Annually, an official wreath-laying ceremony is held each Veterans Day at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, while parades, church services, and other celebrations are held throughout the United States.
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