November 8, 2005 > Veterans Day past and present
Veterans Day past and present
by Sandra Herzstein
Veterans Day, our nation's day of remembrance, commemorated on November 11, honors all those who have not only died since World War I, but in all wars in which our country has fought and sacrificed the lives of its young men and women.
Although the Treaty of Versailles ending World War I was not signed until June 28, 1919, the actual cease fire took place on November 11, 1918. This ended all hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany and went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of "the war to end all wars." The war lasted from 1914 - 1918, and claimed 10 million lives. It was not until June 4, 1926, that Congress officially recognized the end of the war, but in November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson issued his Armistice Day proclamation.
In 1927 Congress issued a resolution requesting President Calvin Coolidge to issue a proclamation calling upon officials to display the flag of the United States on all government buildings on November 11, and invited all people to observe the day in both schools and churches.
It would be yet another 11 years before an Act was passed on May 13, 1938, dedicating November 11 of each year a holiday. November 11 was initially known as "Armistice Day." That same year President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill making the day a legal holiday in the District of Columbia.
Following World War II, the 83rd Congress amended the Act of 1938, replacing the word Armistice with Veterans, thus recognizing veterans of "all wars." Legislation was approved on June 1, 1954, dedicating November 11 to all American veterans. On October 8, 1954, President Dwight D. 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 Uniforms Holiday Bill of June 28, 1968 temporarily moved the observance to a Monday which intended to insure 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.
However, 27 states did not agree with the Bill, and continued to observe it on November 11, so on September 20, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed, Public Law 94-97, returning the observance of Veterans Day to November 11, starting in 1978. It was believed that by observing Veterans Day on the 11 of November, helped to preserve the history as well as the realities of the war.
As we observe this Veteran's Day 2005, we are once again reminded of the reality of what sacrifice means, and the costs of war. For those who have sacrificed their lives, and to the families who have incurred a great loss, we honor their sacrifice, and keep their spirit present on this national day of observance.
Below is a listing of area observances held on Veterans Day:
California Air National Guard Band of the West
Veterans' Memorial Hall 37154 Second St., Fremont
Veterans Day Ceremony
Light refreshments, held rain or shine.
Veterans Memorial Park
Civic Center Plaza
455 E. Calaveras Blvd., Milpitas
87th presentation of the Annual Veterans' Day Parade
Grandstand located downtown San Jose corner of Market St. and Park Ave.
Parade begins at noon at the corner of Hwy. 87 & Santa Clara Street and proceeds along Market Street toward the grandstand.
Alameda County's 52nd Veterans Day Ceremonies
Veterans Memorial Park, Alameda
At the foot of Doolittle and Island Drive, adjacent to the Bay Farm Island Bridge