November 9, 2004 > Veterans Day
by Susana Nuñez
On November 11, 1918, World War I finally came to an end. The war lasted from 1914-18, claimed 10 million lives and forever changed the political map of Europe. It wasn't until June 4, 1926, however, that Congress officially recognized the end of this destructive war between mankind. Years passed and finally, on May 13, 1938, an Act was passed that made November 11 of each year a holiday. Originally called Armistice Day, the holiday was dedicated to world peace and the men who bravely fought in the "the war to end all wars."
Following World War II, the 83rd Congress amended the Act of 1938 by replacing the word "Armistice" with "Veterans." The legislation was approved on June 1, 1954 and November 11th was thereafter dedicated to American veterans of all wars. President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first "Veterans Day Proclamation" on October 8, 1954, stating, "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." President Eisenhower went on to appoint the Honorable Harvey V. Higley, then Administrator of Veterans' Affairs, as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee.
The Uniforms Holiday Bill of June 28, 1968 temporarily moved the observance to a Monday, along with Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, and Columbus Day. This was to assure a three-day weekend for each holiday and encourage travel and recreational and cultural activities. However, the holidays continued to be celebrated on their original days since many states did not agree with the Bill. The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with confusion on October 25, 1971.
The Bill did not last for long, and on September 20th, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97, returning the observance of Veterans Day to November 11, starting in 1978. Having the observance on this date preserves the history and the realities of war and its effects on the brave soldiers who defended the country. Honoring their lives and sacrifices on November 11 emphasizes an appreciation of their by the people of the United States.