It's more than a day that Hollywood can use to promote and debut movies in a fun way, or a date that couples can use to forever remember their anniversary. This year, and each year, November 11 commemorates the lives of all American veterans — past and present — for the sacrifices they made by serving the country.
The history of Veteran's Day dates all the way back to 1918 when an armistice, or a truce, put an end to World War I (also known as The Great War) on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
A year later, the date was declared by President Woodrow Wilson as Armistice Day. On that date, a two-minute moment of silence was observed and the day was celebrated with parades and public events.
In 1921, the burial of an unknown American soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. on November 11 prompted Congress to declare the day as a legal federal holiday. As a result, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was established.
Five years later, an official federal proclamation named Armistice Day as a recurring anniversary on November 11. During the late 1920s and 1930s, a majority of the states adopted November 11 as a legal holiday, and on May 13, 1938, Armistice Day on November 11 was made into a legal Federal holiday.
(Technically, there are no national holidays due in part that the states are able to designate their holidays whereas the federal government can only designate holidays for the District of Columbia and federal employees. Nonetheless, almost all the states follow the holiday practices of the federal government.)
However, the two wars that followed — World War II and the Korean War — saw a significant increase to the number of troops who served in the efforts and deserved to be recognized. On June 1, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower called for the holiday known as Armistice Day to be renamed Veteran's Day.
The change in name was actually one of a few changes to the holiday when in 1968, Congress passed a bill which changed the observance to Veteran's Day to the fourth Monday in October. The law would take effect two years later, which also altered the observances of three other holidays (Washington's birthday, Columbus Day and Memorial Day) to Mondays in an effort to offer three-day weekends to federal employees as well as boost tourism and travel around the nation.
However, the Veteran's Day celebrated on Monday, October 25, 1971 only ushered in confusion and disapproval. Two states originally held back on the October observance and over the next four years, a vast majority of states changed their Veteran's Day observances back to November 11.
In 1975, President Gerald Ford signed a bill and brought Veteran's Day back to its original date of November 11 starting in 1978. To this day, the holiday is still commemorated on the eleventh day of the eleventh month in the United States. Our nation continues to mark Veteran's Day at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers by laying a wreath while other states hold parades and similar celebrations.
But, no matter how many department stores hold furniture sales or bargain blow-out deals, we set aside the day to remember the veterans who honorably served — in days of war or peace, past or present, whether alive or passed away — and thank those who emerged from the battlefields this and every Veteran's Day, November 11.