annually on November 11th (1954 to 1970)
the fourth Monday in October (1971 to 1977)
annually on November 11th (since 1978)
Veterans Day is a day set aside to honor all American veterans of war. On November 11, 1918, a cessation of hostilities, or armistice, between the Allied Powers and Germany took place. With this armistice, fighting during World War I ended, and the stage was set for a treaty to be signed formally ending the war. On June 28, 1919, the Treaty of Versailles was signed. On the first anniversary of the armistice, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the day as Armistice Day, and said, "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 nations." At this time celebrations were marked with parades and public meetings, as well as brief pauses in business at 11:00 AM, the time at which the armistice had taken place in 1918.
On June 4, 1926, Congress passed a concurrent resolution that requested that the President issue a proclamation for the day; it also called on officials to display the flag on government buildings, and invited the public "to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples."
On May 13, 1938, Armistice Day became a legal holiday, and was made "a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace." In 1945 veteran Raymond Weeks came up with the idea to expand the day to celebrate all veterans, not just those from World War I. US Representative Ed Rees later presented a bill for this change, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed it, and it was approved on June 1, 1954. Eisenhower made the first proclamation for Veterans Day that year, saying, "Let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain."
How to Observe Veterans Day
Celebrate the day by honoring veterans, and thanking them for their service. There are many ways you can do this, or celebrate the day in general:
- Attend the Veterans Day Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery .
- Check for Veterans Day events to attend in your community, which often include parades, ceremonies, military exhibits, and tributes to veterans.
- Look at the collection of yearly Veterans Day posters, and use the current year's poster to promote the day.
- Help young people understand the day by using the official teacher's resource guide.
- Display or fly the flag.