From Armistice to Veterans: Why We Celebrate Veterans Day on Nov. 11
While the name and meaning of Veterans Day may have changed over the years, it’s still an important holiday that deserves observance.
A legion of United States war veterans have sacrificed their lives for our country, going all the way back to the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783). Veterans Day honors all those who have served in any American war, whether it be the First Barbary War (1801-1805), the War of 1812 (1812-1815), World War II (1941-1945), the Vietnam War (1965-1973), the War in Afghanistan (2015-present), among many others.
From Armistice to Veterans
As for a short history lesson concerning Veterans Day, we have to acknowledge that Armistice Day was celebrated first. And according to Military.com, Armistice Day “was originally set as a U.S. legal holiday to honor the end of World War I, which officially took place on November 11, 1918.” Legislation was passed in 1938, making November 11 a dedication to the “cause of world peace,” with Armistice Day specifically honoring veterans of WWI. However, in June 1, 1954, on behalf of many veterans groups, Congress amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and instead replacing it with the word “Veterans.” Thus, November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
The Uniform Holiday Bill
While November 11 was the original date for both Armistice Day and Veterans Day since 1918, the observance date shifted to Oct. 25 in 1971 because of the Uniform Holiday Bill (H.R. 15951), signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. Johnson’s vision was to celebrate three federally mandated established holidays on Mondays, which would allow for three-day holiday weekends three times a year (Washington’s birthday — third Monday in February, Memorial Day — last Monday in May, and Veteran’s Day — fourth Monday in October). But Veterans Day’s move to October was short-lived, thanks to President Gerald Ford.
President Gerald Ford’s Influence
In September 1975, President Ford decided to revert Veterans Day back to Nov. 11 based on the premise “that Americans have appreciated and wish to retain the historic significance of November 11 as the day set aside each year by a grateful nation to remember and honor those, living and dead, who fought to win and preserve our freedom.” It took three years (1978) for President Ford’s change to go into effect, but the U.S. has continued to observe Veterans Day on November 11 of every year since.
A Day Off for Federal Workers
To observe Veterans Day, many government workers also get a federally mandated day off, according to The Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Many communities around the nation offer special events and discounts, honoring the veterans that have faithfully served in the military.
Will you be observing Veterans Day at any special events on November 11? What do you think of Lyndon Johnson’s ideas about Veteran’s Day? Should it continue to be celebrated on November 11 like President Ford wanted it? Feel free to let us know in the comments below!