By: Tanya Kramer
Veteran’s Day is November 11th every year and pays tribute to all Americans living or dead, who are veterans. A veteran is “a person who served in active military, naval, or air service and who was discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable.”
This list captures the origins of this important day:
- At the end of World War I, the fighting ended with the signing of an armistice which occurred at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year – November 11th, 1918. World War I was between the Allied Nations and Germany, which was known as “The Great War”. The “Treaty of Versailles” was signed on June 28, 1919, which officially ended the war.
- In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11th as the first commemoration of “Armistice Day.” Armistice means a “temporary cessation of hostilities.”
- On June 4, 1926, Congress passed a resolution for a “recurring anniversary of November 11 should be commemorated by thanksgiving and prayer and exercises to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations”.
- On May 13, 1938, the date of November 11th became a Federal Holiday known as “Armistice Day.”
- In 1954, Congress amended the 1938 act that had made Armistice Day a holiday, striking the word “Armistice” in favor of “Veterans.” President Dwight D. Eisenheier signed this legislation on June 1, 1954. From then on, November 11th, Veterans Day became a day to honor all Americans of all wars.
- In 1968, Congress passed the “Unifyer Monday Holiday Act’ ensuring 3 day weekends for all Federal Employees. This changed the date of Veteran’s Day to the 4th Monday in October.
- In 1975, it became evident that the original day for Veteran’s Day carried significance due to the end of the fighting in WWI. For this reason, President Gerald Ford signed a new law returning Veteran’s Day to November 11th.
The number of Americans who have been in the service during times of peace and war is significant.
- 4.8 million Americans served during WWI
- 16 million Americans served during WWII
- 5.7 million Americans were involved in the Korean War
- Over 9 million Americans were involved in the Vietnam War
As President Ronald Reagan said in 1983, “Veterans know better than anyone else the price of freedom, for they’ve suffered the scars of war. We can offer them no better tribute than to protect what they have won for us.”
In this current political climate, no words could be more true.
If you or someone you know is a veteran and you want to learn more about resources or benefits, here are some websites:
- Veterans Affairs (VA) Resources – https://www.va.gov/resources/
- Veterans Affairs (VA) Benefits – https://www.va.gov/
- Benefits – https://www.benefits.gov/benefit/303
- A nonprofit called the “Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes” – https://saluteheroes.org/get-help/resources/
- Search your local county website for Veteran services and resources
- If in crisis, then call 911 or one of the local crisis phone numbers