November 9, 2013 by toursbybecca
This Monday, November 11th, will be Veteran’s Day in the United States. I’m an ardent supporter of our nation’s veterans and enjoy sharing opportunities to honor them here in D.C., so I wanted to share a little bit of the history behind this special holiday, honoring the over 21 million living veterans in the United States.
World War I (or “The Great War” as it was known then) officially ends on June 28, 1919, when the Treaty of Versailles is signed but as most of the fighting ends with the armistice between the Allies and Germans, we recognize that moment – the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month – as the end of the war. So, November 11, 1918 is generally considered the end of The Great War.
President Woodrow Wilson commemorates the first anniversary of Armistice Day the following year by saying this day shall be “filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service.” To further observe Armistice Day, in 1921, the American Unknown Solider was selected from four unknown caskets, brought home to lie in state for three days and then to be laid at rest at Arlington National Cemetery, identity forever known but to God. In 1938, November 11th is made a legal holiday, dedicated to the cause of world peace and to honor those who served during the Great War.
Following the sacrifice and service of over 16 million men and women in uniform during the next major conflict – World War II – and continued service during the Korean War, Congress makes a change in 1954 to honor all veterans. President Dwight D. Eisenhower states that “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.” Since then, this holiday has had the sole purpose of honoring America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and heroism.
One of my favorite patriotic songs actually comes out of an early Armistice Day Celebration. At the end of Kate Smith’s radio broadcast on November 10, 1938, she sang this tune, written by Irving Berlin in 1918 and brushed up as the Second World War loomed on the horizon. It quickly gained popularity, became a signature song for Ms. Smith, and continues to be my favorite song for Veterans Day.
For more information on how to get involved in Veterans Day in your community, click here. I’ll be posting some DC-area events on this blog and my Facebook page soon!