Contrary to current common observance, today was originally Armistice Day—celebrating the end of World War I. The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words:
Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, andWhereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and
Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.
I can remember celebrating Armistice Day. My earliest memory was standing along one of our town’s main streets with my family watching a parade of returning Korean War Veterans marching down main street accompanied by Tanks, bands and floats (tractor hauled wagons.)
That changed by a proclamation by Dwight D. Eisenhower that designated November 11th as Veteran’s Day on October 8th, 1954.
All was well until 1968 when Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250) or the Uniform Holiday Bill. That bill “was intended to ensure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. It was thought that these extended weekends would encourage travel, recreational and cultural activities and stimulate greater industrial and commercial production. Many states did not agree with this decision and continued to celebrate the holidays on their original dates.” — Department of Veteran’s Affairs.”
Under this law, Veteran’s Day was observed on October 25th causing much confusion. President Gerald Ford moved Veteran’s Day back to November 11 by an order in 1975.
Considering all the wrangling over the holiday, one result of having Veteran’s Day on November 11th is that no one remembers that it was originally set aside to celebrate the end of the First World War. Before the two holiday were merged, each event and group had their own observances. Veterans are also honored on other days such as Memorial Day, Flag Day and and even the Fourth of July.
Personally, I think the WW1 vets have been robbed, if any are left. My mother had a cousin who was a WW1 veteran and fought in Belleau Wood as a Marine.
I would much prefer that Veterans have a holiday all our own. A day solely for us and not usurping a celebration intended for others.
Until that happens, however…Happy Veterans AND Armistice Day!