A brief history of Veterans Day
Flags recently on display at an area Elks Club. Photo by Theresa Knapp
Happy Veterans Day to all veterans,
thank you for your service
By Theresa Knapp
Veterans Day is celebrated on the 11th hour (usually) of the 11th day of the 11th month (11/11 at 11 a.m.) but it has not always been that way.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, World War I (known at the time as “The Great War”) officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting had ceased seven months earlier (in Nov. 1918) when an armistice (a temporar cessation of hostilities) between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. For that reason, Nov. 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”
For the period of time between 1926 to 1954, the holiday was called “Armistice Day.”
From 1968 to 1978, Veterans Day was celebrated at the end of October as part of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act which moved most traditional federal holidays to a Monday, giving federal employees a three-day weekend. According to www.constitutioncenter.org, that change was met with confusion and pushback from people who appreciated the significance of the 11/11 date and it was moved back to Nov. 11 in 1978.
According to the VA, “Veterans Day continues to be observed on Nov. 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to Nov. 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.”