Edmond P. DeRousse

Veterans Day

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Veterans Day is celebrated every year on November 11. It is dedicated to American Veterans of all wars. Do you know why the 11th of November is the day used to celebrate our Veterans?

The idea for the holiday began 100 years ago because of something that happened in 1918 during WWI. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of that year an armistice, a temporary halt of aggressions, was declared between the Allied Forces and Germany. WW1 officially ended with The Treaty of Versailles, signed on June 28, 1919. The end of WW1 was generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.” But it was the November 11th date the public believed was the day the War actually ended. 

In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson officially proclaimed November 11 as Armistice Day. He began that first celebration with the following words: “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 day would be celebrated with parades and public gatherings. Businesses and schools also had brief pauses in activities at 11 a.m. to celebrate the day.

On November 11, 1920, unidentified soldiers were buried at Westminster Abbey in London at the Arc de Triomphe. A year later, on November 11, an unidentified American soldier, killed in WWI, was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. 

On May 13, 1938, an act of Congress was approved which was “dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day’”. That act made “Armistice Day” a legal holiday celebrating WWI veteran.

The 83rd Congress, in 1954, amended the 1938 Act of Congress. By then the United States had been through both WWII and the Korean War. Thousands of American soldiers lost their lives fighting in theses wars. At the urging of veterans’ organizations, the word “Armistice” was replaced with the word “Veterans”. Thereafter, Veterans Day became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

In 1968, with the passage of the Uniforms Holiday Bill, Veterans Day was moved to the 4th Monday of October. Its purpose was to ensure three-day weekends for federal employees so that they could celebrate four national holidays on Mondays. Those holidays were: Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. Several states, though, did not agree with Veterans Day being celebrated on the 4th Monday. November 11 was a day of great historic and patriotic significance to them. They continued to observe it on its original date, obviously causing a great deal of confusion.

To end the confusion, President Gerald R. Ford, on September 20, 1975, signed a law which returned the observance of Veterans Day to its original date. The changes in the law took effect in 1978. Veterans Days continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of the day of the week on which it falls. 

Veteran Day Trivia

Of the 16 million Americans who served during World War II, about 119,550 as 2023 are still alive.

2 million veterans served during the Korean War.

7 million veterans served during the Vietnam War.

5.5 million veterans served during the Persian Gulf War.

16.1 million living veterans served during at least one war.

2 million veterans are women.

6 million veterans served in peacetime.

Great Britain, France, Australia and Canada also commemorate the veterans of World War I and World War II on or near November 11th: Canada has Remembrance Day, while Britain has Remembrance Sunday (the second Sunday of November).

In Europe, Great Britain and the Commonwealth countries it is common to observe two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. every November 11.

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.

                                    Make sure you thank a veteran!!

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