November 11 is well-known as Veterans Day, and because Congress ultimately saw the wisdom of keeping it from being a floating holiday, celebrating it on 11-11 instead of the second Monday of November, has kept it more pure so that it can be remember as a day we honor veterans.
Though we remember the intention of the day, most of us have forgotten the story behind why we celebrate the day on 11th day of the 11th month— and the day originally was intended to acknowledge the 11th hour.
The year of note was 1918 and the occasion was that the armistice between Germany and the Allies came into effect at that time. On November 11, 1919, President Wilson proclaimed that the day should be “filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory.” There were plans for parades, public meetings and a brief suspension of business activities at 11a.m.
In 1926, the United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I and declared that the anniversary of the armistice should be commemorated. On May 13, 1938 Congress approved an Act that made November 11 a legal holiday, known as Armistice Day, and the intent at that time was to honor the soldiers of World War I. Then only a few years later, World War II overtook the nation followed by the Korean War in 1954.
In 1954 Congress voted to change the word “Armistice” to “Veterans” and from that day forward, November 11 became a day to honor veterans from all wars. An effort was made to move it to a Monday holiday but in 1975, Gerald Ford signed a law stating that Veterans Day would always be observed on November 11.
America Comes Alive has posted stories about numerous remarkable men and women who have served our country. To read about some of them, try Dorie Miller, World War II hero, Oveta Culp Hobby, and Latinas During World War II. We have also written about military dogs who are veterans, too. See Sergeant Stubby, Chips, and Military Working Dogs: What Happens When They Retire?