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The History of Veterans Day

November 10th, 2013 by Teresa Jacobson

Savannah is filled with history, and sometimes it just sucks us right into a world of imagination. As we’ve been preparing the Inn for our participation in the B&B for Vets Program, we’ve also been thinking  about the history of Veterans Day.

B&B for Vets which is a nation-wide effort to honor our Vets by booking our inn full and free of charge to those that have served our country on the eve of the federal holiday that celebrates them. It’s something we’ve been doing for a couple years now.

That’ll just make you jealous, though. So THIS, the history of Veterans Day, is fascinating.

The History of Veterans Day, Simplified

The way I’m lookin’ at it, Veterans Day as a federal holiday went through 4 major changes: 2 acts of Congress bookended by the actions of 2 US presidents (Wilson, and Eisenhower) after the first glimmer of peace following the devastations of World War I.

  • It All Starts in 1918: Have you ever wondered where the expression “Eleventh Hour” came from? Well, it predates the Armistice of 1918 but you’ll remember that at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an important document was signed in northern France, in Compiègne. The Armistice of Compiègne marks the beginning of the end of The Great War (also known as World War I). That’s the important thing, the beginning of peace. And now, you won’t forget the 11th when your friends ask, will ya?

 

  • The First Commemoration in 1919: Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States, declares a nation-wide remembrance of Armistice day, that beginning of peace following WWI. It was to be celebrated on that very same day, November 11. Armistice is commemorated.

 

  • Congress Acts in 1926: Congress adopts a resolution  directing the President to issue an annual proclamation to ensure that Armistice is commemorated. President Calvin Coolidge is in office at the time. Resolving to remember peace every year.

 

  • Dedication to World Peace in 1938: This year, President Franklin D. Roosevelt is in office. His Congress passes legislation. Now the legal holiday of Armistice Day is in place, “to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated” It’s law, now, to remember peace.

 

  • A Name Change in 1954: President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States, changes the name of the federal holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day. It is because of Eisenhower that we’re talking about Veterans Day, and we’re so proud of that. Different holiday name, same important sentiment.

History of Veterans Day

Of course, this short reflection on the History of Vererans Day is much more simplified than what great history books will tell you, but it’s something to think about on the eve of Veterans Day.

Now, go thank a vet.

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