“The Great War”…World War I, officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting had actually ceased some seven months earlier, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month…November 11, 1918. It is for that reason this particular date in our history became known as the end of “the war to end all wars” and maintained special significance for generations to come. With these 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…” President Wilson proclaimed November 11, 1919 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. Later, an Act approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday – a day dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day”. This day would be set aside to honor veterans of World War I.
The year 1954, and the 83rd Congress changed this designation. Due to World War II and the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history, and the aggression in Korea fought by American forces, the Act of 1938 was amended with the replacing of the word “Veterans” for the word “Armistice”. On June 1, 1954, under President Eisenhower, November 11th became a day where all American veterans of all wars would be honored.
And still today, November 11th is recognized as a celebratory day to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. But it was not before many iterations (even one including the day identified for celebration be one that created a three-day weekend)…revisions…improvements if you will, that the day officially rested on the same day of every year, regardless of the day of the week, Branch of Service, level of wartime participation or time served. And so it goes…opportunities to revise, to improve, to consider another way, exist everywhere. We just have to continue our efforts of pursuing them.
And to the men and women of the Armed Forces…regardless of the Branch of Service, time served, job performed…THANK YOU for your service to our great nation and the sacrifices you made to defend our freedom.