A Veterans Day Message


World War I officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919. However, the fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.” The following year, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day, saying "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 conception of Armistice Day called for parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business at 11:00 am.

In May 1938, an act passed declaring November 11th a legal holiday dedicated to the cause of peace and to be celebrated and known as Armistice Day. In 1954, after the United States had mobilized troops for World War II and the Korean War, the 83rd Congress amended that act by replacing the word armistice with the word veterans. Thus November 11th became known as Veterans Day, a day to honor veterans of all wars. In October 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first Veterans Day Proclamation and created a Veterans Day Committee to coordinate the planning for Veterans Day activities.

With the passage of the Uniforms Holiday Bill in 1968, the observance of Veterans Day was moved to a Monday. October 25, 1971, was the first Veterans Day not celebrated on November 11th. Due to the historic and patriotic significance of November 11th, President Gerald R. Ford signed a law in 1975 returning the day to November 11, beginning in 1978.

Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of the day of the week on which it falls, preserving the significance of the date. It also focuses attention on the true purpose of Veterans Day: a celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.