By Luke C.
November 11th, Veterans day. You know this as a day of remembrance to all Americans who have served in the military. But how did this start, and what is the significance of this holiday?
This holiday’s date originated on November 11, 1918, nearly 100 years ago, when the German Empire and the Allies signed an armistice to end the most destructive war in history, World War I. An armistice is an agreement to stop fighting.
One year later, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. The day’s observation included parades and public gatherings, and at 11 a.m., there was a brief pause in all public activities to honor the dead in the Great War.
Seven years later, Congress passed a bill saying that November 11 should be remembered every year, “With thanksgiving and prayer, and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations.¨
Ten years later, this day was made into a legal public holiday known as Armistice Day, after the 1918 armistice. In 1954, after many American lives were lost in World War II and the Korean War, the day was renamed Veterans Day. It is called that to this day, per the order of President Eisenhower, who had been a general in World War II.
There was an effort to move Veteran’s Day to the fourth Monday in October, but the move was countered by President Gerald Ford because of the significance of November 11.
The holiday, according to the Department of Veteran Affairs is “the day set aside to thank and honor all those who served honorably in the military – in wartime or peacetime”. This means that this day celebrates all those who have served in the armed forces, not just who have died.
Some other nations also have a public holiday on or near November 11 to commemorate the veterans of the World Wars. For example, Canada has Remembrance Day on November 11 and Great Britain has Remembrance Sunday on the second Sunday of November. In Europe and in former British Commonwealth countries, it is also common to observe two minutes of silence on November 11, at 11 a.m.
So to all those who have served in the armed forces, we honor you for your service and the sacrifice you have given to this nation and to freedom. Thank you.