Want to know the history behind this special day? Just why is it important for the American people? Well, in this post I will answer those questions to give you a Veterans Day History Lesson that will explain to you the origins of this day.
Not only that but I will share with you what activities that you can do on this day and how you can discover your military ancestors.
There are also some Veterans Day quotes in this post as well.
Veterans Day – November 11th
Please note: Although regarded as Veterans Day, it is also acceptable to refer to this day as Veteran’s Day, or Veterans’ Day.
However, the correct spelling is without the apostrophe.
Why Do We Celebrate Veterans Day?
Veterans Day as we all know is a holiday where we honor and thank everyone who has served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
These people are known as veterans, and hence why we call it Veterans Day.
It is a day to not only remember the fallen and who have since passed away, but also to acknowledge living veterans as well.
This day must not be confused with Memorial Day which is a day where we remember both men and women who have lost their lives while serving their country.
Countries all over the world share similar holidays where they commemorate the soldiers who have not only lost their lives during the First World War but also all wars.
Depending on which country you are in you may refer to this day as Armistice Day or if you are in the U.K. then it is known as Remembrance Day.
Veterans Day History!
Exactly a year after the First World War had ended in 1918 and peace was declared America commemorated Armistice Day. But then in 1954 this day was renamed Veterans Day.
So, why the change and what is the history of this day?
Well, read on as I will discuss the origins of Veterans Day.
The first day of commemoration!
On November 11th 1919 then U.S. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed this date to be Armistice Day.
Originally this date marked the anniversary of the signing of the armistice between the Allies and Germany.
Effectively this marked the end of the First World War.
Incidentally the armistice took effect on the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” in 1918.
President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed:
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.
You maybe surprised to learn that 8 years after the conclusion of the First World War the United States Congress officially recognized the end of the war.
They thus declared that this anniversary should be commemorated with prayer and thanksgiving.
June 4th 1926 saw the U.S. Congress pass a concurrent resolution that would request President Calvin Coolidge to issue another proclamation.
This second proclamation was again intended to make sure that November 11th was observed with appropriate ceremonies.
It was not until 20 years after the end of the First World War that a Congressional Act would make the 11th of November a legal holiday each year.
In this act, (approved on May 13th 1938), this day would be dedicated to “the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as Armistice Day“.
The change from Armistice Day to Veterans Day!
After the conclusion of the Second World War there was a push to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans.
Originally Armistice Day was intended to honor the soldiers who had lost their lives and also the sacrifices as well that were made during the First World War.
It was a Second World War veteran by the name of Raymond Weeks who led a delegation to make this change. He would be the first to hold such a celebration back in 1947.
He would continue this annual commemoration right up until his death in 1985.
Prior to his death President Ronald Reagan honored Weeks at the White House with the Presidential Citizenship Medal.
He was regarded as the driving force behind this national holiday. And thus was referred to as the “Father of Veterans Day“.
Backtrack to 1954 and it was President Dwight D. Eisenhower who not only supported the idea of National Veterans Day, but also signed the bill into law.
This bill was signed on May 26th 1954. And then shortly afterwards on June 1st Congress would amend the act to replace “Armistice” with “Veterans“.
1954 also saw the creation of the National Veterans Award. The first recipient of the award was U.S. Representative Ed Rees who had shown great support for this change to be made.
But Veterans Day was not always celebrated on November 11th!
From 1971 to 1977 the date for Veterans Day was actually changed to the fourth Monday of October. This was in accordance with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.
This was an act that made all holidays to be celebrated on a Monday.
But in 1978 the day was restored back to November 11th due to mass confusion and also disagreement from many states as to when this holiday should be commemorated.
However, if November 11th does fall on a Saturday or Sunday then Veterans Day is formally observed on either the adjacent Friday or Monday.
Veterans Day Activities
Because Veterans Day is a federal holiday then most workers and students will have the day off. And if Veterans Day falls on either a Saturday or Sunday then the preceding Friday or following Monday is observed.
Some schools do remain open, and so there are appropriate activities held on this day.
What Veterans Day activities are there?
Well, you may wish to attend church services and parades as well. If you do have a U.S. flag on your property then you may want to show your respect and fly it at half-mast.
As the armistice between the Allies and Germany was signed on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month there is typically a two minute silence that is observed at 11am on this day.
Why not visit Gail Lowe’s How To Create Your Own Life where she shares ways that you can find peace in your life during this time of remembrance.
Veterans Day Lessons
There are many resources available online that will help students understand the contributions that have been made by these brave soldiers.
You will be able to find worksheets, lesson plans, articles, music activities and more.
3 sites to help educate our children about Veterans Day:
- Teacher Vision – Watch videos, learn about the background behind the National Anthem and other patriotic songs, get printable activities, social studies and resources and more.
- Education World – You can get some great Veterans Day lesson ideas as well as additional resources from Education World. Besides learning what Veterans Day is all about from this site you will also be able to learn about Memorial Day as well.
- The Teacher’s Corner – A great resource for teachers where you can print off journal pages to be used in the classroom, find a collection of activities, puzzles, worksheets and more.
Veterans Day Quotes
So far I have explained the history of Veterans Day and also what activities that you can do on this holiday.
However, you may have come across this Veterans Day post because you are looking for a quote.
Well, I won’t disappoint you as I will share with you some Veterans Day quotes.
There is a certain enthusiasm in liberty, that makes human nature rise above itself, in acts of bravery and heroism. Alexander Hamilton.
The veterans of our military services have put their lives on the line to protect the freedoms that we enjoy. They have dedicated their lives to their country and deserve to be recognized for their commitment. Judd Gregg.
On this Veterans Day, let us remember the service of our veterans, and let us renew our national promise to fulfill our sacred obligations to our veterans and their families who have sacrificed so much so that we can live free. Dan Lipinski.
While only one day of the year is dedicated solely to honoring our veterans, Americans must never forget the sacrifices that many of our fellow countrymen have made to defend out country and protect our freedoms. Randy Neugebauer.
Honoring the sacrifices many have made for our country in the name of freedom and democracy is the very foundation of Veterans Day. Charles B. Rangel.
You can find these quotes and more at BrainyQuote.
My Final Thoughts
I feel that it is not only important to understand the meaning behind days such as these but to also teach our children about the contributions that have been made by our veterans.
Besides the links to Veterans Day lessons that I have provided above I do have another suggestion for you.
Why not share your family history research with your children and talk about your military ancestors.
Not only will they learn about these special days but also they will have a connection to them through their ancestors.
Why not discover your military ancestors?!
If you haven’t yet discovered any military ancestors within your family tree then why not head over to Ancestry.
Within the 20 billion records at Ancestry that you will find on this genealogy search site you will discover all sorts of military records.
One other website that I would encourage you to visit is FindMyPast. This is a genealogy search website that I have used to extensively build my family tree.
Not only do they have vital records, censuses, passengers lists and immigration records like Ancestry, but they also have a military records section as well.
If you decide to subscribe to either of these genealogy sites then please come back and let me know what you think. I would love to hear how it is working for you.
Free options to discover your military ancestors!
There are other activities that you could do to learn more about your military ancestors, such as talk to older relatives and also look around your home for any family heirlooms.
Also, why not pay your local library a visit, (not during the holiday), and borrow some books about the history of wars.
Thank You and Please Leave A Comment
I hope you enjoyed this Veterans Day history lesson. If you have any questions or comments then please leave a comment below.
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