Veterans Day

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Veterans Day originated on November 11, 1919 and was called “Armistice Day.” That day marked the end of World War I. Armistice means that both sides agreed to stop fighting during a war, or it means a truce. November 11 became a national holiday in 1938. Veterans Day salutes all American Veterans, whether they are dead or alive.

Even with the Treaty of Versailles being signed on June 28, 1919, November 11 was still noticed as the end of World War I. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson declared November 11 as the first celebration of Armistice Day. In a letter he wrote: “A year ago today our enemies laid down their arms in accordance with an armistice which rendered them impotent to renew hostilities, and gave to the world an assured opportunity to reconstruct its shattered order and to work out in peace a new and juster set of international relations.” he continued to say “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 nations.”

The day was filled with parades and other public celebrations. On November 11, 1921, an unidentified American soldier that was killed in World War I was laid to rest at the Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC; the soldier was given a moment of silence at 11am. An official wreath-laying ceremony is held each Veterans Day at the “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” in Arlington National Cemetery.

June 4, 1926 marked the day that Veterans Day would be a “recurring anniversary…” and “should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations…” Before the Congress declared said action, 27 state legislatures had named November 11 a national holiday. Finally, on March 13, 1938, November 11 was named a legal Federal holiday. November 11 is ““dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day.’” The right to designate their own holiday means that there are no “Federal holidays,” however most states follow behind the Federal government’s lead.

World War II became the largest movement of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force in United States history. More than 16 million people served in World War II for the United States. In the Korean War, the United States had 5.7 million people serving. Armistice Day only celebrated the soldiers who fought in World War I, however, World War II veteran Raymond Weeks from Birmingham, Alabama, had the idea to change Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans. The 83rd U.S. Congress changed the term “Armistice” to “Veterans” in 1954, and President Eisenhower signed off on the action on June 1, 1954, making Veterans Day honor all veterans from all wars.

In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill, which gave federal employees three-day weekends, encouraging travel on holidays that fell on Mondays: Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. Veterans Day was then placed on the fourth monday in October. In 1971, the first Veterans Day under the new law fell on Monday, October 25, which confused citizens. Many people condemned this change and continued with celebrating on November 11. President Gerald Ford changed the date back to November 11th after noticing the significance of the date. If the holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the federal government will celebrate the holiday on the leading Friday or following Monday, respectively.

Great Britain, France, Australia and Canada also honor the veterans of World War I and II on or near November 11th: Canada has Remembrance Day, while Britain has Remembrance Sunday (the second Sunday of November). In Europe, Great Britain and the Commonwealth countries commonly observe two minutes of silence at 11am on November 11.

Many organizations hold fundraisers for veterans in need. In 2017, there was an estimated 40,000 homeless veterans in the United States. People often ask how they can help veterans. You can begin showing veterans our gratitude for all they’ve done by taking part in celebrations, not only on Veterans Day, but also on any and every day of the year. One way to do this is to donate your time to help organizations like the Vietnam Veterans of America in the help of those who have served. Another is to donate any used goods that you no longer find useful to a local charity organization in your area. Many organizations accept donations of clothes, household items, furniture and vehicles. The list goes on and on, and so will your feeling of satisfaction in knowing you’ve helped those that have done so much to help the veterans.

Cite this paper

Veterans Day. (2021, Feb 26). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/veterans-day/

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