The History of Veterans Day

0
781

The History of Veterans Day

Armistice Day, World War I, Eisnenhower…….find out the History of how this, our Veterans Day, came into being.

Our U.S. Veterans Day holiday stretches back to the end of World War I and commemorates the nation’s thousands of combat veterans who fought in the service of their country.  Formerly Armistice Day, Veterans Day is a holiday observed annually in the United States in honor of all those, living and dead, who served with the U.S. armed forces in wartime.

Some states observe the holiday on November 11 and others on the fourth Monday of October. Armistice Day, the forerunner of Veterans Day, was proclaimed in 1919 to commemorate the termination (at 11 am on Nov. 11, 1918) of World War I. On the first anniversary of the truce, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation eulogizing fallen Allied soldiers and referring to November 11 as Armistice Day. It became a holiday in the U.S., France, Great Britain and Canada.  The holiday acquired its present name and broadened significance in the U.S. in 1954. In Canada it is known as Remembrance Day, and in Great Britain, as Remembrance Sunday.

The Complete History
World War I known at the time as The Great War – officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919 , in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles , France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918 , is generally regarded as the end of the war to end all wars.

     

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day 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 original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11 a.m.

The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these 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.

An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday – – a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.” Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

Later that same year, on October 8th, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first “Veterans Day Proclamation” which stated: “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.” (Click here for the full text of the proclamation.)

On that same day, the President sent a letter to the Honorable Harvey V. Higley, Administrator of Veterans’ Affairs (VA), designating him as Chairman of the Veterans Day National Committee. (Click here for the text of President Eisenhower’s letter.)

In 1958, the White House advised VA’s General Counsel that the 1954 designation of the VA Administrator as Chairman of the Veterans Day National Committee applied to all subsequent VA Administrators. Since March 1989 when VA was elevated to a cabinet level department, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs has served as the committee’s chairman.

The Uniforms Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250)) was signed on June 28, 1968, and was intended to insure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. It was thought that these extended weekends would encourage travel, recreational and cultural activities and stimulate greater industrial and commercial production. Many states did not agree with this decision and continued to celebrate the holidays on their original dates.

The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on October 25, 1971. It was quite apparent that the commemoration of this day was a matter of historic and patriotic significance to a great number of our citizens, and so on September 20th, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978. This action supported the desires of the overwhelming majority of state legislatures, all major veterans service organizations and the American people.

Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of 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.

President Eisenhower’s letter to Harvey V. Higley, Administrator of Veterans’ Affairs, designating him Chairman, Veterans Day National Committee

    THE WHITE HOUSE OFFICE

    October 8, 1954

    Dear Mr. Higley:

    I have today signed a proclamation calling upon all of our citizens to observe Thursday, November 11, 1954 as Veterans Day. It is my earnest hope that all veterans, their organizations, and the entire citizenry will join hands to insure proper and widespread observance of this day. With the thought that it will be most helpful to coordinate the planning, I am suggesting the formation of a Veterans Day National Committee. In view of your great personal interest as well as your official responsibilities, I have designated you to serve as Chairman. You may include in the Committee membership such other persons as you desire to select and I am requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch to assist the Committee in its work in every way possible.

    I have every confidence that our Nation will respond wholeheartedly in the appropriate observance of Veterans Day, 1954.

    Sincerely,

    DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER

Click here to go to the Veterans Day home page.

Veterans Day, 1954

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

3071

Whereas it has long been our customs to commemorate November 11, the anniversary of the ending of World War I, by paying tribute to the heroes of that tragic struggle and by rededicating ourselves to the cause of peace; and

Whereas in the intervening years the United States has been involved in two other great military conflicts, which have added millions of veterans living and dead to the honor rolls of this Nation; and

Whereas the Congress passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926 (44 Stat. 1982), calling for the observance of November 11 with appropriate ceremonies, and later provided in an act approved May 13, 1938 (52 Stat. 351) , that the eleventh of November should be a legal holiday and should be known as Armistice Day; and

Whereas, in order to expand the significance of that commemoration and in order that a grateful Nation might pay appropriate homage to the veterans of all its wars who have contributed so much to the preservation of this Nation, the Congress, by an act approved June 1, 1954 (68 Stat. 168), changed the name of the holiday to Veterans Day:

Now, Therefore, I, Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States of America , do hereby call upon all of our citizens to observe Thursday, November 11, 1954 , as Veterans Day. On that day let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.

I also direct the appropriate officials of the Government to arrange for the display of the flag of the United States on all public buildings on Veterans Day.

In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans’ organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to 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.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and cause the Seal of the United States of America to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington this eighth day of October in the Year of our Lord nineteen hundred and fifty-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and seventy-ninth.

DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER

June 1, 1954, this ceremony changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day.  Alvin J. King, Wayne Richards, Arthur J. Connell, John T. Nation, Edward Rees, Richard L. Trombla, Howard W. Watts.


Did you Know?

– There are 26.4 million veterans in the United States; this is a ratio of about 1-in-8 U.S. civilians 18 and over, or 13 percent.

– Six percent of civilian veterans are women.

– Thirty-seven percent of civilian veterans are over the age of 65.

– There are 2.6 million African-American veterans.

– Approximately 22.6 million veterans are White; 1.1 million are Hispanic; 284,000 are Asian; and 196,000, American Indian or Alaska Native. (The numbers for African Americans, Whites, Asians and American Indians or Alaska Natives refer to those reporting a single race only.)

– Among the nation’s veterans, approximately 6 million served in World War II, 4 million served in the Korean War, 8 million during the Vietnam era and 3 million in Persian Gulf War.

– There are seven states with 1 million or more veterans. These states include California (2.6 million), Florida (1.9 million), Texas (1.8 million), New York (1.4 million), Pennsylvania (1.3 million), Ohio (1.1 million) and Illinois (1.0 million).

– Seventeen percent of Alaskan civilians 18 and over are veterans, the highest rate in the country. Other states where 15 percent or more of the adult, civilian population are veterans includ Arizona, Florida, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.

– Veterans received an aggregate amount of $15.5 billion during the 2000 fiscal year. Included in this total, are the 2.3 million veterans receiving compensation for service-connected disabilities.

– The projected national expenditure for veterans’ benefits in 2004 was $62 billion.

This information was collected from the 2000 Census, unless otherwise indicated, and is provided courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau.



U.S. Veterans Day Parade Directory

Department of Veterans Affairs

Veterans Health Administration

Veterans Burial and Memorial Benefits

Arlington National Cemetery

The Consumer Information Center: the U.S. flag.

The White House

 

Thank You from U.S. Military Soldiers – USO

Add to My Profile | More Videos

 

ATTENTION READERS

We See The World From All Sides and Want YOU To Be Fully Informed
In fact, intentional disinformation is a disgraceful scourge in media today. So to assuage any possible errant incorrect information posted herein, we strongly encourage you to seek corroboration from other non-VT sources before forming an educated opinion.

About VT - Policies & Disclosures - Comment Policy
Due to the nature of uncensored content posted by VT's fully independent international writers, VT cannot guarantee absolute validity. All content is owned by the author exclusively. Expressed opinions are NOT necessarily the views of VT, other authors, affiliates, advertisers, sponsors, partners, or technicians. Some content may be satirical in nature. All images are the full responsibility of the article author and NOT VT.
Previous articlePacifiCorp put it's Positive Energy into Hiring U.S. Veterans
Next articleVeterans Day Message from the President of the USA 2006