Veterans Day was was originally called Armistice Day, commemorating the end of World War I. World War I officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919. However, the fighting ended about seven months before that when the Allies and Germany put into effect an armistice on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
For that reason, November 11, 1918, was largely considered the end of “the war to end all wars” and made Armistice Day. In 1926, Congress officially recognized it as the end of the war, and in 1938, it became an official holiday. It was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but when World War II and the Korean War happened on June 1, 1954, Congress amended the commemoration yet again by changing the word “armistice” to “veterans” so the day would honor American veterans of all wars.
Within a few years, it became apparent that most U.S. citizens wanted to celebrate Veterans Day on Nov. 11, since it was a matter of historic and patriotic significance. On September 20, 1975, President Gerald Ford signed another law (Public Law 94-97), which returned the annual observance to its original date starting in 1978.
World War I was a multinational effort, so it makes sense that our allies also wanted to celebrate their veterans on Nov. 11, although the name of the day and the types of commemorations differ. Canada and Australia both call November 11 “Remembrance Day.” Canada’s observance is pretty similar to our own, except many of its citizens wear red poppy flowers to honor their war dead. In Australia, the day is more closely related to our Memorial Day. Great Britain calls it “Remembrance Day,” too, but observes it on the Sunday closest to November 11 with parades, services and two minutes of silence in London to honor those who lost their lives in war.
We are grateful to live in and celebrate this great nation and all of our veterans who have served to protect our freedom.