Today we honor those brave men and women who throughout the ages have defended our liberty in the armed services. Originally today was called “Armistice Day” - in commemoration of the end of hostilities during The Great War (i.e., World War I). In 1918, at 11:00 on 11/11, the great powers ended the fighting pending the approval of a final peace. Because of the enormous sacrifices and historical significance of The Great War (many arguing that it would be the war to end all wars), in November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first Armistice Day as follows:
"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…"
Taken at 10:58 a.m., on November 11, 1918, this photo reveals soldiers of the US 353rd Infantry in Meuse, France waiting for the Armistice to take hold.
By 1926, the state legislatures of 27 states had officially recognized the day, and Congress passed a concurrent resolution recognizing the day. in 1938 it became a legal holiday. After WWII and the Korean War, in 1954 the day was changed to Veterans Day. For a while the day floated (1968-1974) to create a 3 day weekend, but in 1975 it was returned to November 11.
The purpose of the day is to take time from the hustle and bustle of the day to give solemn remembrance to those who have given so much for our liberty. Wilson’s original proclamation may have summed it up best:
“it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations.”
God Bless our veterans, and God Bless America.