Warm Southern Breeze

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The Important Purpose of Veterans Day

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, November 11, 2010

Soldiers of the 353rd Infantry near a church at Stenay, Meuse in France, wait for the end of hostilities. This photo was taken at 10:58 a.m., on November 11, 1918, two minutes before the armistice ending World War I went into effect.

Today is Veterans Day.

The important purpose of Veterans Day is a celebration to honor America‘s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

Annually, since November 11, 1918 – the day an armistice, or temporary cessation of World War I hostilities between Allied nations and Germany became effective, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month – America has celebrated what is now known as Veterans Day.

The Treaty of Versailles was signed June 28, 1919 seven months later.

For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally considered as the end of “the war to end all wars.”

In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as “Armistice Day” thus commemorating it 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…”

Woodrow Wilson.

President Woodrow Wilson - Image via Wikipedia

The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, that read in part, that “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.”

On May 13, 1938, Congress approved an act, codified as 52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a, which made November 11 a legal holiday dedicated to the cause of world peace, and officially celebrating it as “Armistice Day.”

On June 1, 1954, Congress approved Public Law 380, which changed the word “Armistice” to “Veterans,” and on October 8th that same year, President Dwight David Eisenhower issued a proclamation which stated in part that “In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans’ organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose.”

On June 28, 1968, the Uniform Holiday Bill – (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250)) – intended to ensure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Monday, which included Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. Several states, however, did not agree with that decision and continued to celebrate those holidays on their original dates.

The first celebration of Veterans Day under that new law was observed, although with great confusion, on October 25, 1971. Because of the historic significance of November 11, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479) which returned the observance of Veterans Day to November 11, beginning in 1978.

Since 1978, Veterans Day has continued to be celebrated annually on November 11, regardless on what day of the week it occurs.

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