Veterans Day is an American holiday that occurs on November 11th. It commemorates veterans of all the wars that America has fought in. It originated as a result of the Armistice signing in 1918. This brought a temporary cease to hostilities during World War I and led to the end of the war in 1919. The signing occurred during the eleventh hour of the day. The day was the eleventh of the month, and the month was the eleventh of the year. Armistice Day became an American holiday on November 11, 1919, making this year the 100th celebration of the holiday. Parades, speeches, and gratitude to our veterans have always been part of the day’s events.
Changes Along the Way
The most noticeable change to the holiday came after World War II. Communities wanted to officially include those veterans, so the holiday name changed from Armistice Day to Veterans Day. During the early years of the holiday, businesses and schools observed a period of silence during an otherwise typical day. At present, federal buildings and services are closed on Veterans Day, and most schools observe the day as well. Communities display American flags, and some organize parades.
World War I Veterans used to sell small paper poppies to remind people of the sacrifices made during The Great War. These flowers were a reminder of a popular poem of the time. It is titled “In Flanders Fields” and was written by John McCrae. There are no WWI veterans to pass out poppies now. Money raised for veterans these days comes from large organizations and government agencies.
It wasn’t until 1938 that the holiday became a federal holiday. Several states had already made it official for their citizens. Federal status isn’t necessary for private individuals and communities to honor their veterans. In fact, the disagreement over whether a holiday was a federal or state matter became a confusing issue following a new law in 1971. Official observation of certain holidays was moved to the closest Monday. Many states ignored this. Local observation of those holidays, including Veterans Day, became confusing for a few years. In 1975 this law was reversed, and Veterans Day returned to its traditional date of November 11.