Veterans Day 2016: Why is Veterans Day on Nov. 11? Holiday history and more
By: Leada Gore of AL.com
Veterans Day – a time set aside to honor those who served in the U.S. armed forces – is Friday, Nov. 11.
The day traces its origins back to the end of World War I. On Nov. 11, 1918, an armistice between the U.S.-led Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Though the war wasn't officially over until the Treaty of Versailles was signed seven months later, the Nov. 11 is recognized as the end of the "war to end all wars," according to the Veterans Administration.
In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of what was then known as Armistice Day. The day was originally celebrated with parades and a brief suspension of business at 11 a.m. Congress officially recognized the day with a resolution passed on June 4, 1926.
It was then that the day – Nov. 11 – was officially recognized as the date of the holiday.
Almost 30 years later, after U.S. soldiers had served in World War II and Korea, Congress voted to change the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day in honor of all those who served in the military.
Veterans Day remained on Nov. 11, no matter which day that fell, until the passage of the Uniform Holiday Bill. The 1968 law was intended to ensure three-day weekends for federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. Veterans Day was first moved off its Nov. 11 day to a Monday on Oct. 25, 1971.
The change was not popular.
"It was quite apparent that the commemoration of this day was a matter of historic and patriotic significance to a great number of our citizens," the VA said.
On Sept. 20, 1975, President Gerald Ford signed a bill returning Veterans Day to its original date of Nov. 11. It continues to be observed on Nov. 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls.
Veterans Day facts
Difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day: Veterans Day is a federal holiday that is celebrated on Nov. 11 each year. It's often confused with Memorial Day, which is set aside to honor those who died serving their country. Veterans Day is for all those who have served in the armed forces.
Alabama's role: In 1945, Birmingham veteran Raymond Weeks, a veteran of World War II, led a delegation to then Army Chief of Staff Gen. Dwight Eisenhower to convince him to turn Armistice Day into a time to honor all those who served in the armed forces. Weeks led the first national celebration in Alabama in 1947, something he continued to do until his death in 1985.
Celebrations in other countries: Britain, France, Australia and Canada commemorate those who served in World Wars I and II on or near Nov. 11th: Canada has Remembrance Day and Britain has Remembrance Sunday (the second Sunday of November). In Europe, Britain and the Commonwealth countries it is common to observe two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. every Nov. 11.
Its official name is Veterans Day: According to the VA's Office of Public Affairs, the correct spelling is Veterans Day, no apostrophe. The spelling reflects that the day does not belong to veterans but is instead a time to honor all those who served.