‘War to end all wars’ led to Veterans Day of todayWorld War I, known at the time as “The Great War,” officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in France. Fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the elev-enth day of the eleventh month.
World War I, known at the time as “The Great War,” officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in France. Fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the elev-enth day of the eleventh month. For that reason, Nov. 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”
In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following 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…”
The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11 a.m.
The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words:
“Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and
Whereas 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; and
Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.
An act approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday, a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.”
In 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans.” With the approval of the legislation on June 1, Nov. 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
Later that year, on Oct. 8, President Eisenhower issued the first “Veterans Day Proclamation” which stated: “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.”
The Uniform Holiday Bill was signed on June 28, 1968, and was intended to ensure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. It was thought that these extended weekends would encourage travel, recreational and cultural activities and stimulate greater industrial and commercial production. Many states did not agree with the decision and continued to celebrate the holidays on their original dates.
The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on October 25, 1971. It was quite apparent that the commemoration of this day was a matter of historic and patriotic significance to many, and so on Sept. 20, 1975, President Ford signed a law that returned the annual observance to Nov. 11, beginning in 1978. The action supported the desire of a majority of state legislatures, major veterans organizations and the American people.
Veterans Day continues to be observed on Nov. 11 regardless of what day of the week it falls. It not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.
If you go
In Two Harbors
- Program Wednesday at high school, 2:15 p.m., featuring Lake County District Attorney Russ Conrow. Open to the public.
- Dinner Wednesday at American Legion, 4 p.m. social hour, 6:30 p.m. meal. Veterans and family only. $12.
In Silver Bay
- Program Wednesday at high school, 10 a.m., featuring Jon and Leondra Morris. Silver Bay Veterans Home residents are the guests of honor.
- March begins at 9:30 a.m. at Duluth Armory. Rides can be provided for route to Duluth Depot, reserve by calling 722-8763. Public program begins at 11 a.m. at depot with Michael Lebsack of the Coast Guard. Free lunch offered for marching veterans at Duluth Grill and Applebee’s.