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The History of Veterans Day

November 11 was just another day of the year

That was until an end to hostilities, an armistice, took effect between the Allied Powers and Germany on Nov. 11, 1918 on the 11th hour of the day. Although no country signed the Treaty of Versailles until June 1919, officially ending World War I, the day of the armistice marked the end of WWI combat.

President Woodrow Wilson declared November 11, 1919 the first Armistice Day. The idea was to recognize the day fighting ended by having parades and halting business at 11 a.m. In the spring of 1938, Congress approved an act to make November 11 a legal holiday to honor veterans of WWI and celebrate a day of peace. After World War II, Armistice Day changed. Veteran advocate organizations wanted Congress to amend the act of 1938 to change the name of the holiday. Congress did, and in 1954 Armistice Day legally became Veterans Day, a holiday to honor veterans of all wars.

A 1968 bill moved recognition of Veterans Day and some other holidays to Mondays, giving the public three-day weekends. However, confusion and public distaste for the change nullified it. In 1975 President Gerald R. Ford returned the observation of Veterans Day to November 11 no matter what day of the week.