The month of November is a special time for the nation’s veterans. While Memorial Day honors fallen soldiers and service people, Veteran’s Day, which takes place each November, is an opportunity to commemorate the efforts of all who have been in the armed forces, with a special emphasis on living veterans.
While people are encouraged to thank veterans throughout the year, Veteran’s Day on Nov. 11 is a particularly poignant time to show appreciation for the men and women of the military.
Veteran’s Day marks an important moment in history. On Nov. 11, 1918, World War I, known as The Great War, unofficially ended when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, took place between Germany and the Allied nations on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
World War I ended on paper when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919. In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Armistice Day became a federal holiday in the United States in 1938. However, after subsequent wars, including World War II and the Korean War, veterans’ service organizations lobbied for Armistice Day to be revised so it would be more inclusive of all veterans.
On June 1, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation to strike the word “Armistice” from the holiday’s name in favor of “Veterans.” Since then, Nov. 11 has been known as Veterans Day and has honored veterans of all wars.
Veterans Day was moved to the fourth Monday in October for roughly seven years under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which sought to ensure three-day weekends for federal employees by celebrating certain national holidays on Mondays.
But since Nov. 11 bore such significance, many states disapproved and continued to observe the holiday on Nov. 11.
In 1975, President Gerald Ford signed legislation to return the observation of Veterans Day to Nov. 11 beginning in 1978.
Should the day fall on a Saturday or Sunday, the federal government observes the holiday on the previous Friday or following Monday, respectively, according to History.com.
The United States isn’t the only country to celebrate its veterans.
Canada, Great Britain, Australia and France also commemorate the veterans of World War I and II on or near Nov. 11 as Remembrance Day or Remembrance Sunday.