Veterans Day is a U.S. legal holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars. In 1918,
on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, an armistice,
or temporary cessation of hostilities,
was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in World War I,
then known as “the Great War.”
Commemorated in many countries as Armistice Day the following year,
November 11th became a federal holiday in the United States in 1938.
In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War,
Armistice Day became legally known as Veterans Day.
The Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919,
marking the official end of World War I.
Nonetheless, the armistice date of November 11, 1918,
remained in the public imagination as the date that marked the end of the conflict.
One year later, in November 1919, U.S.
President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day.
The day’s observation included parades and public gatherings,
as well as a brief pause in business and school activities at 11 a.m.
On November 11, 1921,
an unidentified American soldier killed in the war was buried at
Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C.
On the same day the previous year,
unidentified soldiers were laid to rest at Westminster Abbey
in London and at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
On June 4, 1926,
Congress passed a resolution that the “recurring anniversary of [November 11, 1918]
should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed
to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations,”
and that the president should issue an annual proclamation calling
for the observance of Armistice Day.
By that time, 27 state legislatures had made November 11 a legal holiday.
An act approved May 13, 1938 made November 11 a legal Federal holiday,
“dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated
and known as ‘Armistice Day.'” In actuality, there are no U.S.
national holidays because the states retain the right to designate their own,
and the government can only designate holidays
for federal employees and for the District of Columbia.
In practice, however, states almost always follow the federal lead.
HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!!