Hearts Through History Romance Writers

Veteran’s Day

by | November 19, 2012

By Anna Kathryn Lanier

I substitute teach during the school year and last year I was at the local high school for Veteran’s Day.  In my school district, we don’t get the day off, but each school holds a Veteran’s Day program.  I was subbing ninth grade English classes that day and I asked each class “Why is Veteran’s Day held on November 11th, as opposed, say, October 21st?”  Now, remember, these kids had been going to programs each year and half the classes had attended THAT day’s program, which gave the answer to this question. Yet, only a few had even an inkling and overall, maybe two students out of a 100 knew the answer.  As it turned out, I subbed for that particular teacher and class several times during the rest of the year and each time I did, I’d ask, “Why is Veteran’s Day held on November 11th?” By the end of the year, most of them could answer the question.  Earlier this year, I subbed for a tenth grade class and, yes, some of those students remembered me and my question. 

So, why does the United States observe Veteran’s Day on November 11th

365 Great Stories From History gives us a short answer to the question and more on the subject in general.

The eleventh day of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour—it’s when The Great War ended in 1918. Six hours earlier an armistice had been signed between the Allies and the Central Powers to end the war on this day and hour.  The war had lasted four years, three months, and nine days. Sixty-five million people had mobilized, 8.5 million were killed, 21 million were injured and an estimated six million civilians died.  In addition, four imperial dynasties perished during the war or shortly thereafter: 

                Hapsburg             1282-1919

                Hohenzollern     1415-1918

                Romanov             1613-1917

                Ottoman              1290-1922

 The world rejoiced as news of the Armistice spread. A million people thronged onto Broadway in New York. In London Big Ben, which had been silenced for the previous two years during the war, rang out, quickly followed by church bell after church bell throughout the city.  People filed into the streets, Union Jacks fluttering in the wind.

In United States, the first observance of Armistice Day was held a year later in 1919.  President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed 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 was a brief moment of silence and a suspension of business at 11:00 a.m. 

In 1926 Congress officially declared the Great War over and set aside November 11 as a day of prayer and thanksgiving. In 1938, Act 52STAT; US Code, Sec 87a was approved by Congress to make November 11 of each year a national holiday known as Armistice Day, to Honor War Veterans of the Great War. 

By 1954, America had been involved in two additional conflicts, World War II, which resulted in the largest mobilization of service men in the history of the United States, and the Korean War.  The Veteran’s Service Organization petitioned Congress to change the name from Armistice Day to Veteran’s Day so that all Veterans could be honored. 

In 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Holiday Bill, which moved most observations of National Holidays to a set Monday of the month.  Veteran’s Day was moved to the fourth Monday in October, to take effect in 1971.  Many states, however, continued to observe the day on November 11.  In 1975, President Gerald Ford signed a bill marking November 11 as the day Veteran’s Day would be observed from 1978 onward. When Veteran’s Day falls on the weekend, as it did this year, the Monday following the weekend is a federal holiday, but local parades and observances usually take place on November 11, not Monday. 

Trivia: The last American World War I veteran died on February 27, 2011.  Frank Buckles of West Virginia was 110 years old. 


365 Great Stories From History by W.B. Marsh & Bruce Carrick





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