I wanted to take a moment to enlighten the members of I.U.S.B. on the history and traditions of Veterans Day. Most Americans have a good general idea of this holiday’s meaning, but I feel a lot of the days original significance has been lost with a somewhat generic meaning. So I intend on sharing a piece of American history with you that honors the ones who really make America the great nation it is, our Veterans.
Veterans Day is easily recognized on the calendars as being the day of November 11, one day following the United States Marine Corps official Birthday, for those who are unfamiliar with this fact. During the year of 1918 on the 11TH hour, of the 11TH day, of the 11TH month, an Armistice was made between America and Germany to end the war of all wars as it was known at the time, World War I. The War officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919. On November 11, 1919 President Wilson in order to honor the brave men of World War I proclaimed the day to be known as Armistice Day by saying these exact words in his Armistice Day speech: “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”.
The original concept of Armistice Day was to allow Americans a opportunity to take a brief break from the day’s work and to celebrate the Armistice and to pay honor to the veterans of World War I who contributed to it. This was done by observing a parade followed by a public meeting. This holiday was further enforced in 1926 when Congress proclaimed that on November 11TH all government buildings would display the American flag and that the day would be observed by schools, churches, and all other reasonable places with appropriate activities and celebration to honor the Armistice. Even after this, Armistice Day was not recognized as an official holiday in America until May 13, 1938.
After World War II, and the Korean War congress made considerations to change the name of Armistice Day to something different in order to honor the Veterans of these foreign wars also. This was due to their brave sacrifices also contributing to the overall freedom of our nation. So on June 1, 1954: the 1938 Act was amended by removing the word “Armistice” and adding its place the word “Veterans”. Also, later that same year President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave the first Veterans Day proclamation saying that: “All Veterans who have served in the defense of America would be recognized on this day”.
On June 20, 1968 the significance of the Armistice were nearly forgotten by the federal government passing the Uniform Holiday Bill making Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day all fall on Mondays regardless of date significances. The intention of this Bill being passed was to ensure a three day weekend for government employees, on these holidays. The first Veterans Day following the Bill’s passing was celebrated with much confusion by the American people by falling on October 25, 1971 instead of the traditional November 11Th. After much debate by the American people for November 11th‘s historical significances, a decision was made on September 20, 1975 to pass a law in order to guarantee this days significance’s were observed and remembered. President Gerald R. Ford passed the Bill in 1978 making November 11TH the official holiday now known as Veterans Day. So next year when November 11TH arrives on the calendar you can take pride in knowing the true significance’s of this day.