On the 11th day, of the 11th month of the year 2011 we celebrate an event that occurred on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. This was the time the armistice between Germany and the Allied nations went into effect, thus ending the war to end all wars. It was called the “Great War” because nobody could fathom a fiercer conflict.
On Nov. 11 the following year, Armistice Day was commemorated for the first time. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the day should be “filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory.” There were plans for parades, public meetings and a brief suspension of business activities at 11 a.m.
In 1926, the United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I and declared that the anniversary of the armistice should be commemorated with prayer and thanksgiving. The Congress also requested that the president “issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.”
An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) was approved in 1938 making Nov. 11 each year a legal holiday known as Armistice Day. This day was originally intended to honor veterans of World War I. A few years later, World War II required the largest mobilization of service men in the history of the United States. Shortly thereafter, American forces fought in Korea. In 1954, the veterans service organizations urged Congress to change the word “Armistice” to “Veterans.” Congress approved this change and Nov. 11 became a day to honor all American veterans, where ever and whenever they served.
In 1968, the Uniforms Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250) made an attempt to move Veterans Day to the fourth Monday of October. This bill, which took effect in 1971, continued until 1977. But many states were unhappy with the new date, continuing to hold Veterans Day activities on the 11th of November. Then in 1975, President Gerald Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which once again established Nov. 11 as the day to observe Veterans Day. That law has remained on the books since 1978.
And now that you’ve got a little history about this important commemoration of our service men and women, get yourself to a celebration near you. And if you get the opportunity, reach out and shake hands with a couple of veterans. Believe me when I say they’ll appreciate it. Just like you appreciate them.