Saturday, November 12, 2011

A History of Veterans Day

World War I Veteran

World War I, known as the Great War, ended with an armistice declared on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in November 1918. An armistice is a temporary stop to war hostiles. At the time, no one believed there could be a war greater than World War I. The final peace treaty, the Treaty of Versailles, was signed in 1919. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, proclaimed "Armistice Day," on November 11, 1919.

President Wilson's intent was to reflect on the sacrifice and heroism of those who died in service to the country during the Great War, and to show gratitude for having won the war. Armistice Day was marked with a suspension of business for two minutes starting at 11 a.m. Parades and public meetings were also encouraged. Throughout the years, two minutes of silence is observed by the President during Veterans Day activities.

In 1920, France and Great Britain honored their war dead on the second anniversary of the armistice by dedicating their countries' Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. In 1921, Congress followed suit and approved the American Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The dedication ceremony was held at Arlington National Cemetery on November 11. Congress also declared November 11, 1921 a legal, federal holiday to honor those who participated in the war.

Throughout the 1920's and 1930's, most states celebrated November 11, Armistice Day, as a legal state holiday. Back then, the states had the final say as to what days they were going to celebrate as holidays, and most followed the federal holiday schedule. During this time, on the national level, the president issued an annual proclamation. It wasn't until 1938 that Congress officially made November 11 a federal legal holiday.

With veterans from World War II and the Korean War, President Eisenhower signed legislation in 1954 that changed November 11 from "Armistice Day," to "Veterans Day," honoring all those who had served.

Me in Army Dress Blues, 1997

During the 1970's, the Veterans Day holiday was held on the fourth Monday of October to accommodate a federal three-day holiday law, but a lot of states felt that was too close to Columbus Day, and so they held their observances on the traditional date of November 11. In 1978, legislation was passed that officially made November 11 the day of observance for Veterans Day.

The importance of Veterans Day is to honor all veterans for their patriotism and willingness to serve their country. As an interesting note, the holiday is commonly misspelled as Veteran's Day or Veterans' Day. It is observed on the federal, state, and local levels of government, however, most businesses remain open.

I'm a veteran and I'm honored to have served my country. I served from 1986-1997 and spent 7 years overseas in Germany. I was an US Army MP (military police). I went to two leadership schools and obtained the rank of Staff Sergeant before getting out of the army.

You can also find this article on my Associated Content Account at:


  1. I've followed your blogs for quite a while now, Steph, but I have to say this one is my favorite. As much as I have researched WWI to write Banjo's story, I never got this very interesting information. Very interesting tidbits. I love the picture of you in dress uniform. Thank you for your service, Stephanie.

  2. Steph,

    I’m a Military Brat. Both my fathers are retired Navy. So is my brother in law. I first of all want to say thank you for all the men and woman who serve in our armed forces, police & fire dept..

    Especially the ones, who have gave up there lives for us. I especially want to thank the families of these individuals of these people. Without your support and love they couldn’t have done the amazing duties & jobs.

    I praise and hug you all for all the wonderful things you do for my freedom and safety. I feel you should be the highest paid people in our country. And maybe someday you will be.

    Again thank you, my prayers are with you always.

    Teresa K.
    tcwgrlup41(at) yahoo dot com

  3. Thank you for the informative post, and for your service. I come from a family of those who serve, dad WWII, brother Viet Nam, wounded multiple times, two nephews peace time, neice National Guard, Son currently in the Navy. I think it takes a very special person to protect this great nation and I am in awe of anyone who can be that committed.

  4. My mom was in the Navy during the Korean War, my father and father-in-law (WWII), 2 brothers and my husband (Vietnam) were in the Army, brother-in-law and 2 cousins were in the Navy, brother-in-law and 2 uncles were Air Force and I happen to be the only Marine (Vietnam Era). Thank you for your service.