In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”
Originally, celebrations were observed with parades and public meetings, and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m. Act 52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a approved on May 13, 1938, made the November 11 a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.”
Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II and after Americans fought in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
On October 8, 1954 President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first “Veterans Day Proclamation” which stated:
“In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans’ organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans’ Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible.”
So today, despite having off, no school, or just another day of your week, please remember those who fought, past and present, in our Armed Forces. They deserve our respect, our thanks, and our gratitude no matter what your politics are.