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News > Veterans Day -- the history
Veterans Day -- the history

Posted 11/15/2012   Updated 12/6/2012 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Sarah Breer
6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

11/15/2012 - MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- On the 11th day of the 11th month in the 11th hour of 1918, World War I, the war to end all wars, was formally declared over. The world changed.

Across the globe, nations celebrated holidays like Armistice Day and Remembrance Day to recognize the end of WWI and the people who served. Today, in the United States, Nov.11 is celebrated as Veterans Day. As a country we pay tribute to those who have served and those currently serving.

In the U.S., it all began when former U.S. President Woodrow Wilson declared Nov.11 as Armistice Day in 1919. In declaring Armistice Day, Mr. Wilson said:

"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 opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations."

Congress asked former U.S. President Calvin Coolidge to observe the holiday with appropriate ceremonies in 1926. In 1938, Nov. 11 was first observed as a legal holiday.

The name of the holiday was changed to Veterans Day in 1954, and it became an official holiday to recognize all living veterans.

Memorial Day and Veterans Day are often confused. Memorial Day memorializes veterans who have died while serving in the armed forces or died from injuries sustained while serving. Veterans Day recognizes all U.S. veterans -- past and present.

National Veterans Awareness Week was established in 2001, and occurs during the week of Nov. 11 each year. United States Senate Resolution 143 calls for educational efforts to teach school-aged students about the contributions and sacrifices of United States veterans.

Each year across the nation, events such as ceremonies and parades take place to celebrate veterans of the U.S. military.

As we pause to recognize past and current veterans this week, stop to remember why we celebrate. We remember because each person who serves risks their life and asks their families to take risks, as well. They defend the ideals of the United States to protect what our nation holds dearest -- freedom.

We are the land of the free because of the brave veterans of the United States armed forces.

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