The History of Veterans Day


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Joseph Marchese, Staff Writer

Veterans Day gives Americans the opportunity to recognize and celebrate all U.S. veterans for their bravery and service to our country. However, many people do not know the reason we celebrate our veterans on November 11 or the history of the holiday itself. In fact, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, most Americans confuse this holiday with Memorial Day; Memorial Day specifically honors service members who died while serving the United States or died as a result of injuries incurred during battle. While deceased veterans are also remembered on Veterans Day, Veterans Day is specifically set aside to thank and honor living veterans who served honorably in the military regardless of when they served.

Veterans Day, which was formerly called Armistice Day, was originally made a United States holiday to commemorate the end of World War I, or the “war to end all wars” (which, unfortunately, was not the case). Specifically, November 11 was the holiday that honored all World War I veterans. However, in 1954, after having gone through both World War II and the Korean War, the 83rd U.S. Congress amended the Act of 1938 by removing “Armistice” from “Armistice Day” and inserting the word “Veterans,” creating the national holiday we now know as “Veterans Day.” On June 1, 1954, November 11 became a day not solely dedicated to honoring those who fought and served in World War I, but also to honor American veterans of all wars.

In 1968, the Uniforms Holiday Bill ensured three-day weekends for federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. Under this bill, Veterans Day was moved to the fourth Monday of October. However, many states did not agree with this decision and continued to celebrate the holiday on its original date. The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion (rightfully so) on October 25, 1971.

Finally, on September 20, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed a law which returned Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, a law enacted in 1978. Since then, the Veterans Day holiday has continued to be celebrated on November 11.

Today, Veterans Day continues to recognize all service members who have served our country and gives us the opportunity to thank veterans for all they did for our great nation. While I have no living veterans in my immediate family, Veterans Day is a time for me to remember my grandfather who passed away a couple years ago and dedicated many years of his life to serving in the armed forces. Veterans Day is a time to be appreciative of all that our veterans did for us and to understand what it means to be Americans.