Veterans Day is an American federal holiday, which is celebrated on the 11th of November every year. Its purpose is to honor all military veterans who have served in the United States Armed Forces. The holiday was originally known as Armistice Day, but the name changed after World War II. There is however more than one thing which is peculiar about the title of the holiday itself. Many people believe that the spelling is either “Veteran’s Day” or “Veterans’ day” but neither of these are true. The day is dedicated to all veterans and the apostrophe in both of these cases signifies that it is either about one specific veteran or multiple, neither of which is true - that is why an apostrophe is not part of the title.
The date of Veterans Day is very symbolic. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 the main hostile relations of World War I ended. Even though the Allies and Germany signed the famous Treaty of Versailles on the 28th of June 1919 it was the Armistice signed on the 11th of November the past year that ended the actual fighting. That is why this day was initially called “Armistice Day”.
One year after the day of the signing the president at the time, Woodrow Wilson, issued the very first message to the citizens of America, expressing his thoughts about the holiday:
“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 nations.”
Two years later, on the 20th of October Congress declared that Veterans Day is a legal federal holiday honoring all those who participated in the war. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was established in Arlington National Cemetery to commemorate the occasion, for which there was an official ceremony that reaped great success.
Years passed and after the Second World War veteran Raymond Weeks from Alabama suggested to General Dwight Eisenhower to expand Armistice Day so that it includes all veterans not just the ones from World War I. He also led the first national celebration in his own state in 1947, continuing the tradition each year until his demise in 1985. Reagan even honored Weeks with the Presidential Citizenship Medal in 1982 naming him “Father of Veterans Day”.
However not all ran smoothly in the history of this holiday. On June 28, 1968 the Uniforms Holiday Bill was signed describing that three-day weekends will be given to all federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays. Those holidays were Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Columbus Day, thus moving Veterans Day from its original date. This was done in an effort to encourage travel and cultural activities in civilians so that bigger commercial production can be achieved. Regardless of the new regulations many states did not agree and continued to celebrate the holidays on their original dates. This led to a bit of a chaotic situation when the first Veterans Day after the change came on October 25th, 1971. Due to the unsuccessful change president Gerald R. Ford signed a document stating that the holiday will be returned to its original date beginning from the 11th of November 1978. This decision was broadly supported by civilians and veterans alike and from that point on no changes regarding the date of the holiday have been made.
Veterans Day is a beautiful, if tragic holiday about millions of people that sacrificed their wellbeing for their country. It celebrates both the ones who gave their lives and the ones who survived the wars in which America fought and it is one of the biggest federal holidays. Posters are made, processions are organised and many people flood the streets of the city in order to give their gratitude to those who fought for them. Even though this is a time to grieve the ones lost it is also a time to be reminded of their great sacrifice and to celebrate the ones who survived. That is why this holiday is such an important piece of the United States of America’s history and tradition.