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Veterans  Day
(Armistice Day)  -  Historical TimeLine - Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
  Last updated July, 2006


Armistice Day - 1918 - 1919 - 1920 - 1921 - 1926 - 1927
1932 - 1938 - 1941 - 1950 - 1953

Veterans Day - 1954 - 1958 - 1965 - 1968 - 1971 - 1972 - 1973
1974 - 1975 - 1978 - 1984 - 1999


Veterans Day is a day to honor those who have served the American people in military service. It is the sacrifices of Veterans past who have created and maintained American liberty. It is those who now serve, continuing the tradition of sacrifice, to maintain the security and liberty you and I enjoy today.          
- R

Armistice  Day - (Veteran's Day)
Current Status Veteran's Day is a legal Federal Holiday in the U.S. and is celebrated on November 11th.  Veterans Day is not relegated to Monday as are other holidays.
1918 Nov.
In the Forest of Compeigne, France in a railroad car, owned by Marshal Ferdinand Foch, an armistice was signed to temporarily cease the hostilities of The Great War (World War I). The armistice went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. November 11th, 1918 at 11 a.m. is the original recognition of the end of "The Great War".
Celebrations The news was received with jubilation. Celebrations began in Paris, London, and New York City.  More than a million Americans came to Broadway in New York City to dance in the streets and hurl ticker tape out of the windows.
The Great War to World War I World War I would not be called such until World War II.  It was called "The Great War" as it was inconceivable that any war could be "greater".
1919 June
War End
The Treaty of Versailles was held in the Hall of Mirrors on June 28, 1919 and officially ended The Great War (World War I), when signed by the Allies and Germany.
1919 Nov.
President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11th, Armistice Day commemorating the end of the Great War (World War I). Within his declaration President Wilson  proclaims, "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…"
Alternate Names England and Canada called the day, Remembrance Day.  In the United States it was sometimes called Victory Day, which is where the term "V-Day" is derived and the holding of fingers to make a V for Victory. (The V gesture in the 60's became known as the Peace Sign.)
1920 Nov.
England and France both hold services to bury an unknown soldier at the nation's highest place of honor.  In England at the Westminster Abbey and in France it is the Arc de Triomphe.  Both memorials were on November 11th on the second anniversary of the armistice.  The day later becomes known as "Armistice Day" in America and "Remembrance Day in France and Canada.
1920 Proclaim At the suggestion of America's churches President Woodrow Wilson proclaims the closest Sunday as Armistice Day Sunday, on which should be held services in the interest of international peace.
1921 Tomb Congress approves legislation establishing the "Tomb of the Unknown Soldier" in Arlington National Cemetery, over looking the Potomac River and Washington D.C..  November 11th was selected for the date of the ceremony.
1921 Oct.
On October 20, 1921 Congress declares November 11, 1921 a legal Federal holiday, honoring all who participated in The Great War (World War I).
1921 Tomb
The first ceremony honoring the participants of The Great War (World War I) was conducted on November 11, 1921 at the tomb of the unkown soldier with great success. The unknown soldier was interred in a temporary crypt covered with a marble slab.
The "Tomb of the Unknown Soldier" monument will become a focal point for veterans across the nation.
State Holidays During the 20's and into the 30's many states had established November 11, Armistice Day, as a legal holiday.
1926 June
Congress adopts a resolution on June 4, 1926, that establishes the name "Armistice Day" and directs the President to annually proclaim the observance of Armistice Day on November 11th. The resolution states:

Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and

Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and

Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.

1927 Proclaim The U.S. Congress issues a resolution that requests President Calvin Coolidge to issue a proclamation that the U.S. Flag is to be displayed on all government buildings on November 11th and invite the people to observe Armistice Day in Schools and Churches.
1932 Tomb
A permanent tomb was constructed of Colorado Marble and placed on the original base.  The tomb was dedicated as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on November 11, 1932.
1938 May On May 13th, Armistice Day, on each November 11th, becomes a National holiday by an Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U.S. Code, Sec. 87a) of Congress, with the hope that The Great War (World War I) was "the war to end all wars."
1938   President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the making of Armistice Day a legal holiday in the District of Columbia.
Federal vs. State Holidays Federal Holidays are not actual National Holidays. The individual States retain the right to designate their own holidays, but usually follow the lead of the Federal designated holidays. A Federal holiday can only be designated for Federal employees and the District of Columbia.
 - 45
  America enters World War II. Sixteen and a half Americans take a roll in the war with four hundred seven thousand dieing in service. More than two hundred ninety two thousand die in battle.
War to end all Wars?
The holiday, to this day, would have been called "Armistice Day" had the idealism of "the war to end all wars" were realized. World War II changed the belief that the destruction of World War I would never be repeated.
The addition of the WW II veterans, the antiquated name Armistice which means "a truce" and with disillusionment, little attention was paid to the celebrations of the armistice of 11-11-1918, for many years. The significance of the name Armistice Day had changed.
- 53
  The Korean War is fought creating even more American Veterans.
Vets lobby As the significance of the name Armistice Day had changed, Veteran groups began to lobby to have November 11th set aside as a tribute for all who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
1953   November 11, 1953 in Emporia, Kansas the community celebrated a Veterans' Day instead of Armistice Day.  U.S. Representative Ed Rees was impressed by concept. He introduced the bill to change the name of the holiday to Veterans Day. After passage he contacted all the state governors asking for their support and cooperation of the change.
© Copyright 2006 Roger W Hancock
Veterans  Day - (Armistice Day)
1954 May The bill to change the holiday's name to Veterans Day passes Congress on May 24, 1954.
1954 June Public Law 380 is approved by congress striking the word "Armistice" and inserting "Veterans" on June 1 1954.
1954 June President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs the bill, in June, 1954, changing the name from Armistice Day, declaring November 11th, Veterans Day.  The holiday becomes a day to honor all American Veterans.
1954 Oct. President Dwight D. Eisenhower issues the first "Veterans Day Proclamation" on October 8th, 1954 stating:

"In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible."

(Link to the Full Text)

1954 Oct. Later on the same day as the first Veterans Day Proclamation, on October 8, 1954 President Dwight D. Eisenhower sends a letter to the Honorable Harvey V. Higley, Administrator of Veterans' Affairs, appointing him Chairman of the Veterans Day National Committee. 

(Click for text of the letter

1958   In 1958 the White House advises the Veterans' Administration's General Counsel that all subsequent VA Administrators would be subject to the 1954 designation of Chairman of the Veterans Day National Committee.
1958 Tomb Two additional unknown Americans were transported from Europe and Korea to be interred at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Memorial Day, 1958.  The unknown soldiers of World War II and the Korean War were laid to rest, next to the unknown soldier of World War I.  The name is changed to the "Tomb of the Unknowns."
1965 Parade Auburn, Washington has the first of over 40 years of Veteran Day Parades in 1965.  Today Auburn holds the 5th largest Veterans Day Parade in America. It became the 2nd largest west of the Mississippi River.
1968 June The Monday Holiday Law;Uniforms Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250)); signed on June 28, 1968 establishes the fourth Monday in October as the new date to observe Veterans Day.  The effective date was to be in 1971.
It was intended that three-day weekends for Federal employees would encourage recreation and cultural activities stimulating greater industrial and commercial production.  Many States disagreed with the decision continuing to celebrate on the original date.
- 75
Oct. Veterans Day is observed on the forth Monday of October (October 25, 1971).
It became apparent through the confusion of the date change that Veterans Day held a historic and patriotic significance to a great many American citizens.
In the beginning all states except Mississippi and South Dakota observed the forth Monday of October. Eventually others will have changed the observance back to November 11th.
1972   Louisiana and Wisconsin change the observance of Veterans Day back to November 11th.
1973 Tomb
A law is passed allowing a Vietnam War unknown interment at the Tomb of the Unknowns. Several years passed before the Vietnam War produced a fallen hero who was not identified.
1974   Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, South Carolina, and West Virginia change the observance of Veterans Day back to November 11th.
1975   California, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Wyoming change the observance of Veterans Day back to November 11th.
1975   Congressional legislation returned the Federal Observance of Veterans Day to November 11th as a reaction to the popular support across the nation.
1975 Sept. President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), on September 20th, 1975 returning the observance of Veterans Day to the original date of November 11th.
Original Date Since the change to the forth Monday of October all but four states, either continued observing or had reverted back to November 11th as the date to observe Veterans Day.
© Copyright 2006 Roger W Hancock
1978 Nov. The Federal Observance of Veterans Day officially reverts back to November 11th. The remaining states follow suit.
1984 Tomb
The first unknown soldier of the Vietnam Conflict is killed and interred at the Tomb of the Unknowns in 1984.
1989 Mar. In March of 1989 the Veterans' Administration was upgraded to a Cabinet level department. Since the upgrade, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs has served as Chairman of the Veterans Day National Committee.
1998 Tomb
The identity of the Vietnam War unknown was discovered in 1998 and his remains were removed. He was identified as Michael Blassie a 24 year old Air Force pilot that was shot down in May 1972 near the border of Cambodia.   His body was transported to St Louis, Missouri where his family reburied his remains.
Honor Guard To honor the Unknown Soldiers as a symbol of all who gave their lives in all American Wars, an Army Honor Guard, the 3d U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard) Stands vigil at the Tomb of the Unknowns, day and night.
1999 Tomb
With the advent of scientific advances of DNA fingerprinting it was decided that a truly unknown soldier from the Vietnam War and any future war were unlikely.  In 1999 the Pentagon announced that no new remains would be placed in the memorial of the Unknowns.
The official, national ceremonies for Veterans Day continues to be the memorial amphitheater built around the Tomb of the Unknowns. The ceremony is always set for 11 a.m. on November 11th.  A color guard, with representatives of all military services, executes "Present Arms" at the Tomb.  A laying of a presidential wreath symbolizes the nation's tribute to its war dead. Taps is played by the bugler.  The remainder of the ceremony continues in the amphitheater.
Across America
Americans celebrate Veterans Day in several varied ways in observances across the United States.  Some will visit the Viet Nam War Memorial. Others will visit the Tomb of the Unknowns. In thousands of towns some communities will hold military balls, parades and religious services in honor of our Veterans. A moment of silence is observed, in some places, at exactly 11 a.m. on the 11th of November; Taps is sometimes played during organized observances of silence.
The Poppy Many American dead were buried in cemeteries all over Europe. The sites were usually fields where red poppies grew wild. Some have taken the red poppy to symbolize the blood that was spilt by the fallen.
John McCrae's poem "In Flander's Fields" he popularized the image of the poppy.

"In Flanders fields the poppies blow,
Between the crosses, row on row."

Due to the symbolism of the red poppy, American Veteran groups have used paper poppies as remembrances of the American fallen.

Deserving of Honor The American Veteran is worthy of our honor whether he or she has served in war or peace. Whatever, in which ever, the capacity served, they have served their country to preserve the liberty and security first afforded us by the founding fathers; the first American Veterans.
© Copyright 2006 Roger W Hancock

Military & Veteran Poetry
Memorial Day TimeLine
Military Links


SOURCES: - - - - -,13319,80231,00.html - - - - -


Veterans  Day
Armistice Day - 1918 - 1919 - 1920 - 1921 - 1926 - 1927
1932 - 1938 - 1941 - 1950 - 1953

Veterans Day - 1954 - 1958 - 1965 - 1968 - 1971 - 1972 - 1973
1974 - 1975 - 1978 - 1984 - 1999

© Copyright 2005 Roger W Hancock 


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