At the conclusion of World War I, Armistice Day was established to commemorate the signing of an armistice between the Allies and Germany to end World War I. The signing occurred at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Shelling continued after the armistice was signed and didn’t end until nightfall of that day. The first armistice was for only 36 days and had to be extended many times until a formal peace treaty was signed a year later.
The first Armistice Day celebration was held a year later at Buckingham Palace. The original commemoration was to honor those who died in World War I. President Woodrow Wilson recognized the first Armistice Day with a message to all Americans honoring not only the soldiers who fought in World War I but America’s resolve to sustain our democracy.
In 1938, November 11 was declared a federal holiday dedicated to world peace. The official name of the holiday was initially Armistice Day. World War I was thought to be the war to end all wars, but that was not to be the case. When World War II ended, the original Armistice Day seemed to lose its meaning. A World War II veteran, Raymond Weeks, proposed that the intent of the original Armistice Day should be changed to honor all veterans, not just those who had died in World War I. General Eisenhower gave his support, and the first updated commemoration was held in Alabama in 1947.
Seven years later, General Eisenhower was then President and signed into law the change of the original Armistice Day to one of honoring all veterans. A week later, Congress changed the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.
The naming of the November 11 holiday was to undergo one more change when an argument arose as to whether it should be Veteran’s Day or Veterans’ Day. The official day is now Veterans Day (no apostrophe).
Since Veterans Day is a day when many people are not working, there has been a proposal to hold elections on Veterans Day to make it easier to vote. At a time when it seems that we are moving toward making voting more difficult than easier, it seems unlikely that such a legislature will ever pass.
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“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who didn’t. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.” – General S. Patton, Jr.