Veterans Day is a time to honor the men and women in uniform who have served, are currently serving, and will serve their country. Today, many of us spend Veterans Day enjoying time off from work or school or as an opportunity to take a vacation for the long weekend. Military veterans also might enjoy discounts or free meals and activities, among other things. Regardless of who you are or how you celebrate, it’s important to honor our veterans in any way you know possible–even if it’s just taking a moment to remember the history behind the holiday.
The federal holiday was established in 1919 to mark the end of World War I, which ended on November 11th, 1918, when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, went into effect.
During the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918, this peace agreement was made between the Allied nations and Germany. The armistice was signed at Le Francport in France to terminate all fighting on land, in the air, and at sea.
World War I, which was referred to as “The Great War” at the time, did not officially end until June 28th, 1919, when the Treaty of Versailles was signed in Versailles, France. Still, November 11th, 1918, marked a historic truce in world history and in American history. The day was so pivotal to the strengthening of our nation that the United States Congress enacted the federal holiday that we now celebrate on November 11th each year.
President Wilson offered the following words on the new holiday: “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…”
Many people might not know that Veteran’s Day was originally called Armistice Day for several decades. In 1954, one year after the Korean War ended, Congress officially changed the name to Veteran’s Day to honor all veterans of the U.S. armed forces, not only those who served in World War I.
President Eisenhower officially signed the bill to put the new name, “Veteran’s Day,” into effect on June 1st of that year. Since then, Veteran’s Day would honor both the living and deceased who served America both during times of peace and war.
There are several ways you can celebrate Veteran’s Day to honor those who deserve our thanks. One suggestion is to seek out veteran-owned businesses to support on this day (and every day!). Another alternative is to visit your local VA office to spend time with sick or injured veterans or donate to the VA or another trusted veteran-oriented charity.
However, a simple thank you when possible or acknowledgment of our veterans in any way you know best will suffice.
Please check out our Up & Coming Events page for local Veteran’s day ceremonies held on Friday, November 11th.