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Armistice Day to Veterans Day: Recognizing Those Who Served

Field of United States of America Flags

Each year we take one day to recognize those men and women who protect our country. One day of recognition for the rights and freedoms we enjoy every day as a result of their service.

What we know today as Veterans Day was first observed as “Armistice Day” on November 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. President Woodrow Wilson’s proclamation contained the language:

"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 nation."

In 1926, Congress recognized in a resolution that twenty-seven states had declared Armistice Day a legal holiday. The resolution called for the day to be commemorated with “thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations….”

In 1938, when Congress finally made November 11 a national legal holiday, the holiday was to be “dedicated to the cause of world peace…” By then, only one state had not already either made it a legal holiday in the state or given the Governor the right to proclaim the day holiday.

Sadly, World War I was not the war to end all wars so many envisioned. In 1954, the 83rd Congress amended the existing legistation and “Armistice” was replaced by “Veterans” in the name of the holiday. The purpose of this change was to “expand the significance of Armistice Day….” 

Congress recognized that the holiday “dedicated to the cause of world peace” had “been regarded and observed throughout the land as a day to honor the veterans of the First World War” and that since the day was dedicated in 1938 millions of other veterans had joined the ranks of those who fought for the same noble objective.

Veterans Day now officially commemorates the sacrifices of all American veterans in the cause of world peace. We thank them all for their service.

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