In 1918, during World War I, the Allied nations and Germany declared temporary peace. It happened on the 11th of November at 11 o’clock, which is a curious combination of numbers – 11:11:11. The next year, this day in the United States became a federal holiday. Initially known as Armistice Day, after the Korean War, it was renamed into Veterans Day, a holiday to pay tribute to all veterans of the country.
We all know that World War I officially ended with the Treaty of Versailles. The agreement of November 11 was the first public sign of the approaching peace. No wonder America’s 28th President Woodrow Wilson chose this day to be a federal holiday. Public celebrations included:
- Short breaks in business and public activities
After an unidentified American soldier was buried in Washington, D.C., on November 11, the Congress officially stated that this day was a federal holiday, a time to say “thank you” to people who participated in all wars for the sake of the country. Similar ceremonies were held in London and Paris.
Have you seen people selling red poppies in Canada and the UK on Remembrance Day? Did you know that this flower became a symbol of World War I after John McCrae mentioned it in his poem? Volunteers sell poppies to raise money for veterans.
In 1926, the Congress issued an act in which mentioned that veterans should be commemorated by special public services, such as prayers and thanksgiving. The resolution was to favor peace and understanding between different countries. Armistice Day was to become an annual holiday.
How Armistice Day became a Veterans Day
Although World War I was a daunting period in America’s history, the greatest mobilization of its military forces happened during World War II. Millions of people died. In 1954, due to the efforts of veterans’ service organizations, the word “Armistice” was changed to “Veterans.” So, that year, America started to officially celebrate Veterans Day.
In 1968, the Congress allowed a three-day weekend for this holiday. Thus, the number of national holidays increased to four: apart from Veterans Day, people celebrated Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, and Columbus Day.
There were efforts to transfer the observation of Veterans Day to the 4th Monday of October. However, it resulted in confusion, and all states agreed to follow the initial tradition.
Today, the holiday bears significant historical and patriotic meaning.