Veterans Day: Honoring All American Veterans

On the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month in 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in World War I.

One year later, President Woodrow Wilson declared that Nov. 11, 1919, was a day to remember Americans for their military service in World War I. He called it Armistice Day. He suggested that Americans celebrate with parades and perhaps around 11 a.m. a “brief suspension of business.” President Wilson also hoped it would be a time when Americans offered prayers of thanksgiving for those who had served and for peace for all times.

President Wilson originally intended Armistice Day to be observed one time, but many states decided to observe it every year to honor World War I veterans. Congress followed the states’ lead and in 1938 declared that every Nov. 11 would be observed as Armistice Day. Congress changed the name to Veterans Day in 1954 to honor veterans of all wars.

For a brief time, 1971-1974, Veterans Day was observed on the fourth Monday in October. Since 1975, Veterans Day is observed on Nov. 11. If Nov. 11 falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the federal government observes the holiday on the previous Friday or following Monday, respectively.

Some other interesting aspects about the observance of Veterans Day:

  • Nov. 11, 1921, when the first of the unknown soldiers was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, unidentified soldiers also were laid to rest at Westminster Abbey in London and at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
  • At exactly 11 a.m. each Nov. 11, a color guard, made up of members from each of the military branches, pays honor to America’s war dead during a ceremony at The Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington.
  • Memorial Day, the fourth Monday in May, honors American service members who died in service to their country.
  • Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans, living or dead, but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.
  • Legally, there are no U.S. national holidays because the states retain the right to designate their own. The government can only designate holidays for federal employees and for the District of Columbia. However, states often follow the federal lead.

This Veterans Day, The Missouri Bar thanks all American veterans for their service.

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