While many of us realize that Veterans Day, on November 11, 2013, is a day designated to honor our nation’s Veterans, very few realize the historical significance behind the day.
Veterans Day originated as Armistice Day and marked the end of hostilities between Germany and the Allied nations in World War I that occurred at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. Some 20 million people died in the fighting that went on for four years beginning in 1914. In 1919, President Wilson commemorated the first Armistice Day on November 11 and said,
“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…”
In 1938 it was made a legal federal holiday for all and by 1954, the word “Armistice” was replaced with “Veterans” as a way to formally include all Veterans of all American wars. Unfortunately, the “war to end all wars” was not America’s last. Today, Veterans Day is a day to remember not only those who died in service to our country but also to honor the duty, sacrifice and service of America’s 25 million veterans of all wars.