Origin of Veterans Day - Guide to Greater Tampa Bay
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Origin of Veterans Day

Origin of Veterans Day

It was the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year that the Allied nations and Germany signed an armistice to officially end World War I in 1918. In the years that followed, Nov. 11 was commonly referred to as Armistice Day around the world.

Poignant burials of unknown soldiers were held in England’s Westminster Abbey and France’s Arc de Triomphe. In each country, the highest place of honor was chosen for the ceremony. In 1921, an unknown World War I American soldier was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on a picturesque hillside overlooking Washington, D.C. and the Potomac River.

A National Holiday to Honor All Veterans

In 1926, a Congressional resolution gave Armistice Day its official name in America to celebrate the anniversary of the end of military operations in World War I. When it became a national holiday 12 years later, the universal hope was that this day of truce would be permanent and that was the “war to end all wars.”

When 16.5 million Americans fought and 407,000 died in World War II, the name Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day to honor all those that fought for their country. In 1954 President Eisenhower signed a bill proclaiming Nov. 11 as Veterans Day to honor all veterans.

What Does Each Holiday Honor?

While the day to honor all veterans is always Nov. 11, two other holidays to acknowledge the military fall on different dates each year.

Armed Forces Day became an official holiday to celebrate active military in 1961. It is observed the third Saturday in May.

Memorial Day was declared a holiday in 1971 to commemorate the men and women who died while in the military service. It is celebrated on the last Monday in May. 

See Also

Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery

Unidentified American soldiers from World War II, Korean War and Vietnam were later placed alongside the first solder at Arlington Cemetery. An Army honor guard keeps vigil day and night to honor the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which symbolizes all Americans who sacrificed their lives.

Each year at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, the U.S. Army Military District of Washington conducts a Presidential Armed Forces Full Honor wreath-laying ceremony. This is followed by an observance program hosted by the Department of Veterans Affairs in Arlington’s memorial amphitheater.

By Jennifer Kennedy.

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