November 9, 2018
The Meaning of Veterans Day
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 nations.
President Woodrow Wilson
On the first Armistice Day observation, 11/11/19
Many of us at CACI are proud to honor Veterans Day as veterans. Yet there is much many of us probably do not know about this cherished American holiday. The first is that Veterans Day began as Armistice Day, as President Wilson referred to in his statement. Armistice Day, as it is still celebrated in many countries, marks when the major hostilities of World War I were formally ended when the Armistice with Germany went into effect … at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.
In fact, the United States observed Armistice Day for several decades. In 1945, World War II veteran Raymond Weeks thought it was time to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans. Gen. Dwight Eisenhower supported the idea of National Veterans Day, and Weeks led the first national celebration in 1947 in his home state of Alabama. In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially changed the name of the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day. Having earned the moniker as the "Father of Veterans Day," Weeks was honored by President Reagan at the White House with the Presidential Citizenship Medal in 1982.
Veterans and all Americans continue to celebrate this special holiday in their own ways. There are speeches, patriotic celebrations, parades, and more. The most iconic is the annual ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, which features the President of the United States placing a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Honoring those who served is also reflected in the recent establishment of National American History and Founders Month.
Although Veterans Day has changed over time and is celebrated in many ways, it is still an opportunity for us to be, as President Wilson said, "filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service, and with gratitude for the victory."
Did You Know …
The day on which we celebrate Veterans Day wasn't always November 11th? In 1968, the Uniform Holidays Bill passed by Congress moved the celebration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. The law went into effect in 1971, but in 1975 President Gerald Ford returned Veterans Day to November 11, due to the important historical significance of the date.