History of Veterans Day
Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, was originally set as a U.S. legal holiday to honor the end of World War I, which officially took place on Nov. 11, 1918. In legislation that was passed in 1938, Nov. 11 was "dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as 'Armistice Day.'" As such, this new legal holiday honored World War I veterans.
In 1954, after having been through both World War II and the Korean War, the 83rd U.S. Congress -- at the urging of veterans service organizations -- amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, Nov. 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
If the Nov. 11 holiday falls on a non-workday -- Saturday or Sunday -- the holiday is observed by the federal government on Monday (if the holiday falls on Sunday) or Friday (if the holiday falls on Saturday). Federal government closings are established by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. State and local government closings are determined locally, and non-government businesses can close or remain open as they see fit, regardless of federal, state or local government operation determinations.
United States Senate Resolution 143, which was passed on Aug. 4, 2001, designated the week of Nov. 11 through Nov. 17, 2001, as "National Veterans Awareness Week." The resolution calls for educational efforts directed at elementary and secondary school students concerning the contributions and sacrifices of veterans.
Things You Don't Know About Veterans Day
- It's "Veterans Day," not "Veteran's Day," for a good reason. The lack of the apostrophe might seem like a semantic choice, but it has a definite and deliberate meaning. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, Veterans Day is not a day that belongs to veterans, it is a day for honoring veterans directly in front of us right now.
- Veterans Day used to be celebrated on the fourth Monday of October. In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which stated that Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Columbus Day, and Veterans Day would all be celebrated on Mondays. The reason for doing so was to create three-day weekends, which hopefully encouraged travel and other recreational activities that would help stimulate the economy. However, many states did not agree with the change, particularly for Veterans Day, which holds significant historic and patriotic significance. And so on Sept. 20 1975, President Gerald Ford signed Public Law 9497, which returned the observance of Veterans Day to Nov. 11, beginning in 1978.
- Armistice Day became Veterans Day in 1954. Although today we all know it as Veterans Day. Nov. 11 was originally called "Armistice Day" in recognition of the armistice agreement that ended WWI on Nov. 11, 1918. While WWI was called "the war to end all wars," it failed to do just that. By the early 1950s, millions of Americans had served in WWII in the Korean War. So, in an attempt to be more inclusive and honor this younger generation of veterans service, Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day on June 1, 1954.