Veterans Day, observed annually on Nov. 11, is a tribute to all veterans who have served in the U.S. military.
Unlike Memorial Day, it pays tribute to all American veterans — living or dead — but especially living veterans who served their country during war or peacetime.
25 News honors that service with stories from veterans, a look back at key moments in the wars that helped shape our world from World War I to Iraq/Afghanistan.
Veterans Day was originally known as "Armistice Day."
World War I officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919.
But fighting had ended seven months earlier at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918 (11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month). That is when an "armistice," or a cease fire, between Allied troops and Germany went into effect
In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first commemoration 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…"
It did not become a national holiday until 1938 when Congress passed the Act of 1938.
In 1954, after the end of World War II, Congress amended the Act by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting "Veterans" in its place.
Later that same year, on Oct. 8, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first Veterans Day Proclamation.
"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."
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