It began as Armistice Day
World War I, officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919. However, seven months earlier the fighting ceased in the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. November 11th 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars”. Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day, and still is in other countries, signifying the formal agreement which ended the fighting on the western front.
“In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 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…'”
Thereafter, An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.” Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I.
Renaming “Armistice Day” to “Veterans Day”
However, after World War II, Congress amended the Act of 1938, striking out the word “Armistice” and replaced it with “Veterans”, the approved legislation passed June 1, 1954, and November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
“Later that same year, on October 8th, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first “Veterans Day Proclamation” which stated: ‘In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans’ organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans’ Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible.'”
Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which 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 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.