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U.S. Inside/Background

Veterans Day - November 11th


It falls on November 11, the day when that war ended in 1918, but it now honors veterans of all wars in which the United States has fought.
Veterans' organizations hold parades, and the president customarily places a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

In 1921, an American soldier—his name 'known but to God'—was buried on a Virginia hillside overlooking the Potomac River and the city of Washington, DC. The burial site of this unknown World War I soldier in Arlington National Cemetery symbolized dignity and reverence for America's veterans.
Similar ceremonies occurred earlier in England and France, where an “unknown soldier” of the Great War was buried in each nation's highest place of honor (in England, Westminster Abbey; in France, the Arc de Triomphe).
These memorial gestures all took place on November 11, giving universal recognition to the celebrated ending of World War I hostilities at 11 a.m., November 11, 1918 (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month).
The day became known as "Armistice Day."
Armistice Day officially received its name in America in 1926 through a Congressional resolution. It became a national holiday 12 years later by similar Congressional action.
If World War I had indeed been "the war to end all wars," November 11 might still be called Armistice Day.
But in 1939, World War II broke out in Europe and shattered that dream.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in the Armed Forces during World War II, more than 400,000 died.


Raymond Weeks of Birmingham, Alabama organized a "Veterans Day" parade for that city on November 11, 1947, to honor all of America's veterans for their loyal service. Later, U.S. Representative Edward H. Rees of Kansas proposed legislation changing the name of Armistice Day to Veterans Day to honor all those who have served America in all wars.

In 1954, President Eisenhower signed a bill proclaiming November 11 as Veterans Day, and called upon Americans everywhere to rededicate themselves to the cause of peace. He issued a Presidential Order directing the head of the Veterans Administration, now the Department of Veterans Affairs, to form a Veterans Day National Committee to organize and oversee the national observance of Veterans Day. In addition to fulfilling that mission, the committee oversees the annual production and distribution of the Veterans Day Poster and this Veterans Day Teachers Resource Guide.
In 1968, Congress moved Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. However, it became apparent that the November 11 date was historically signifi cant to a great many Americans. As a result, Congress formally returned the observance of Veterans Day to its traditional date in 1978.

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Official Veterans Day Poster (this is the issue 2001). All posters of the past until today can be found on the website of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Official Veterans Day Poster (this is the issue 2001). All posters of the past until today plus many information about Veterans Day can be found on the website of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

   
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  The Veterans Day National Ceremony is held each year on November 11 at Arlington National Cemetery.
At 11 a.m., a color guard, made up of members from each of the military services, renders honors to America's war dead during a tradition-rich ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
The President or his representative places a wreath at the Tomb and a bugler sounds “Taps.” The balance of the ceremony, including a "Parade of Flags" by numerous veterans service organizations, takes place inside the Memorial Amphitheater, adjacent to the Tomb.
In addition to planning and coordinating the National Veterans Day Ceremony, the Veterans Day National Committee supports a number of Veterans Day Regional Sites. These sites conduct Veterans Day celebrations that provide excellent examples for other communities to follow.
Congress formally returned the observance of Veterans Day to its traditional date in 1978.
 

Document Information
Source: U.S. State Department; U.S. Dep. of Veterans Affairs; Veterans Day National Commitee
Last modified: 20081111
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