Today, Veterans’ Day, we say “thank you” to all who served in the many branches of the military and in the various wars.
We especially say thank you to those who are still with us. At the same time, we remember the many who served this great country in the early wars.
Veterans’ Day began as Armistice Day just after World War I.
The first World War cost so many lives – nine million soldiers and five million, or more, civilians. Plus, 21 million soldiers returned home wounded.
Though the Treaty of Versailles formally ended the war on June 28, 1919, people remembered the armistice agreement signed on November 11, 1918 that went into effect at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month.
In 1919, President Wilson declared November 11 as Armistice Day, “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 June 1926, Congress jointly agreed that November 11 should be a day to remember and to be thankful with appropriate ceremonies and displays of the flag.
In May 1938, the day became a legal holiday called “Armistice Day” and primarily honored World War I veterans.
After the involvement of our military in World War II and Korea, Congress amended the 1938 legislation in 1954 by changing “Armistice” to “Veterans” and honoring veterans of all wars.
Later that year, President Eisenhower signed a Veterans Day Proclamation that included appointing a Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee. He wanted to insure the observance of the holiday was widespread and honored all veterans.
But, in 1968, the Uniform Holiday Bill attempted to change the observance of Veterans Day to a Monday in October.
The first such Monday observance occurred on October 25, 1971 with much confusion and disappointment.
The choice of the 11th day of the 11th month for Veterans’ Day remained historically significant to many people. Many state and local groups chose to disregard the October holiday and continue with the November 11th observance.
In 1975, President Ford signed legislation returning the national Veterans Day to its proper date.
Regardless of the day of the week, November 11 with its historic and patriotic significance is Veterans Day – a day to remember and honor all veterans for their gallantry, their service and their sacrifice.
Thank you veterans and thank you to those who still serve.
Freedom is not free —thank you for helping the eagle soar.
Commemorative Silver Dollar Coins honoring the military against an eagle soaring in the background.