National News

Do you know how Veterans Day started?

Posted November 10, 2017 11:38 a.m. EST
Updated November 10, 2017 12:36 p.m. EST

— Veterans Day this year is being observed on Friday, Nov. 10 because the actual day -- Nov. 11 -- falls on a Saturday.

But many Americans who celebrate the day may not know how the holiday first originated.

Veterans day started out as Armistice Day and was originally created to mark the end of World War I, which at the time, was considered to be the most catastrophic global war of all time.

Although World War I, also referred to as "The Great War," officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919, fighting between Germany and the Allied nations had actually ended seven months earlier on Nov. 11, 1918 during the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

In November 1919, then President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first official celebration of Armistice 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 the nations," Wilson wrote at the time, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Congress made Nov. 11 -- or Armistice Day -- a legal holiday 27 years later, setting the day aside to honor WWI veterans.

After World War II and the Korean conflict, Congress amended the law to supplant the word "armistice" and replace it with veterans, a move advocated by veterans service organizations. The law was enacted on June 1, 1954, and Nov. 11 became a day to honor all U.S. war veterans. Later that same year, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first Veterans Day Proclamation.