When first celebrated as Armistice Day, Veterans Day marked the end of World War I, formally recognized on the ‘11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month’ in 1918. A vehicle parade is taking place at 11:11 a.m. today in Los Alamos hosted by the Elks Lodge 2083, VFW Post 8874 and American Legion Post 90 to honor veterans. The parade begins in the Elks Lodge parking lot on Trinity Drive. Courtesy/military.com
Today is Veterans Day – a time for us to pay our respects to those who have served. The day all stand united in respect for veterans.
This holiday started as a day to reflect upon the heroism of those who died in our country’s service and was originally called Armistice Day. It fell on Nov. 11 because that is the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. However, in 1954, the holiday was changed to “Veterans Day” in order to account for all veterans in all wars.
We celebrate and honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.
When first celebrated as Armistice Day, the day marked the end of World War I, formally recognized on the “11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month” in 1918.
Today we continue to celebrate the day as Veterans Day, still recognizing the original tie with Nov. 11. That means Veterans Day is on the same day every year – Nov. 11 – regardless of on which day of the week it falls. When the date falls on a Saturday or Sunday, government officials or businesses may recognize it on both the official day and the following Monday.
Veterans Day is a federal holiday, a bank holiday and, in most states, a state holiday. That means that federal employees, including military members, are typically given the day off and, in most states, state workers are as well.
Whether Veterans Day is taken as a work holiday by companies is a business decision. Many companies choose to take off either Veterans Day or Columbus Day, which falls in October, but not both.
Many schools do close on Veterans Day, but whether they do so is typically not a one-size-fits-all decision.
Public school holidays are set by the local school board, while private school holidays are set by private officials. State and private school college holidays are set much the same way. Check with your local school to confirm their calendar.
A Brief History of Veterans Day
Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, was originally set as a U.S. legal holiday to honor the end of World War I, which officially took place Nov. 11, 1918. In legislation that was passed in 1938, November 11 was “dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day’.” As such, this new legal holiday honored World War I veterans.
In 1954, after having been through both World War II and the Korean War, the 83rd U.S. Congress – at the urging of the veterans service organizations – amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting the word “Veterans”. With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, Nov. 11 became a day 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. 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 on Oct. 25, 1971.
Finally on Sept. 20, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed a law, which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of Nov. 11, beginning in 1978. Since then, the Veterans Day holiday has been observed on Nov. 11.
Celebrating the Veterans Day Holiday
If the Nov. 11 holiday falls on a non-workday – Saturday or Sunday – the holiday is observed by the federal government on Monday (if the holiday falls on Sunday) or Friday (if the holiday falls on Saturday). Federal government closings are established by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. State and local government closings are determined locally, and non- government businesses can close or remain open as they see fit, regardless of federal, state or local government operation determinations.
United States Senate Resolution 143, which was passed on Aug. 4, 2001, designated the week of Nov. 11 through Nov. 17, 2001, as “National Veterans Awareness Week”. The resolution calls for educational efforts directed at elementary and secondary school students concerning the contributions and sacrifices of veterans.
The difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day
Memorial Day honors service members who died in service to their country or as a result of injuries incurred during battle. Deceased veterans also are remembered on Veterans Day but the day is set aside to thank and honor living veterans who served honorably in the military – in wartime or peacetime.
President Eisenhower’s letter to Harvey V. Higley, Administrator of Veterans’ Affairs, designating him Chairman, Veterans Day National Committee:
The White House Office
October 8, 1954
Dear Mr. Higley:
I have today signed a proclamation calling upon all of our citizens to observe Thursday, November 11, 1954 as Veterans Day. It is my earnest hope that all veterans, their organizations, and the entire citizenry will join hands to insure proper and widespread observance of this day. With the thought that it will be most helpful to coordinate the planning, I am suggesting the formation of a Veterans Day National Committee. In view of your great personal interest as well as your official responsibilities, I have designated you to serve as Chairman. You may include in the Committee membership such other persons as you desire to select and I am requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch to assist the Committee in its work in every way possible.
I have every confidence that our Nation will respond wholeheartedly in the appropriate observance of Veterans Day, 1954.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Story Courtesy of the Los Alamos Daily Post.