In the early 1900’s World War I raged with utter devastation and loss of life. It was known as the Great War and it had been going on for a bloody four years from 1914 to 1918. The war would officially end for the world on June 28th, 1919 with the signing of Treaty of Versailles in Versailles, France but fighting had ceased across the front when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, had taken effect between the Allied troops and the Germany solders. This event had ended the blood shed at the eleventh hour of the eleventh of November 1918 which is the eleventh month which is a momentous day that helped the world breath a true sigh of relief because “the war to end all wars” was truly over.
In November 1919 President Woodrow Wilson declared to America that November 11th would forever be known as the commemoration of Armistice Day. His words rang out across the world as a memorable speech that touched the hearts of every citizen. “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 was to be observed with parades and other festivities across the United States. All business was suppose to be suspended at 11 am on this eventful day of observation.
Congress would officially declare to the world the end of World War I with these historic words,
“Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and
Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and
Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to 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.”
On May 13, 1938 Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) officially recognized November 11th as a National holiday. This was a day to recognize world peace. They called the memorable day “Armistice Day.”
Originally President Wilson had saw the day as a time to recognize the veterans of World War I but soon the world was embroiled in another World War II that would cost an even greater number of lives of require more troops to fight then had even been dispatched in history. This War was devastating in the loss of life and loved ones so World War I seemed like a distant memory. It was because of this both World Wars that on June 1, 1954 (Public Law 380) the wold “Armistice” was changed and the day officially became known as Veterans Day to recognize everyone from both World Wars who had fought so bravely for their country and some who had paid the ultimate price for freedom.
On October 8th, 1954 President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first Veterans Day Proclamation which declared to the world, “In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans’ organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans’ Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible.”
As time passed things became confused as Uniform Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250) was passed in 1968 to grant Federal Employees a three day holiday weekend. This changed the date of Veterans Day to change to October 25, 1971. Many states and citizens objected strongly because November 11th had held a deep historical meaning. Somehow the day was being sold out and the meaning undercut by the government and America was in an uproar over the situation. These strong feelings forced President Gerald R. Ford to sign Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479) which officially returned the observation of Veterans Day to its true and significant November 11th date. Now it is officially observed on this date no matter what day of the week that it falls on. This gives the true significance back to a day that is historic and should touch every single Americans heart.