History of Veterans Day

Soldiers of the 353rd Infantry near a church at Stenay, Meuse in France, wait for the end of hostilities.  
This photo was taken at 10:58 a.m., on Nov. 11, 1918, two minutes before the armistice ending World
War I went into effect.                   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.

President Eisenhower signing HR7786, changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day.     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." 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.

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.
When I was young, many years ago…
I joined the Navy.  Why, I don’t know…
I served my time with honor and pride…
For this young boy, it was quite a ride…

I went to places I’d never dreamed…
Time went fast, so it seemed…
I met people I’ll never forget….
And some I wish I’d never met…

But as I think back on those days gone by…
My ship, my shipmates, bring a tear to my eyes…
I didn’t know it then – never gave it a thought…
But my time in the Navy could not have been bought…

I guess we all feel the same after we’re out…
The pride we feel – that’s what it’s all about…
Having served our nation, keeping it free…
Protecting our way of life and our liberty…

Would I do it again?  Any day!

And to the friends I made along the way…
And to all my shipmates, Anchors Aweigh.

Thank you Charles Comp 1951 / 1955 for his contribution