Veterans Day is a time to honor and remember our nation’s Veterans. Each year we set aside this special day to remember and reconnect with those who have served in our uniformed Armed Forces. From those brave service members who fought and died in the trenches of World War I, to those who are fighting on the ground, at sea, and in the air today, we owe them our deepest respect and gratitude.
Veterans Day originally began after World War I as Armistice Day. World War I, known as “the Great War,” officially ended on 28 June 1919 when the Treaty of Versailles was signed outside of Versailles, France. However, the fighting had actually stopped seven months earlier with an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany. The armistice – a cessation of hostilities – went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month … 1100, 11 November 1918.
The following year, in 1919, President Wilson proclaimed 11 November as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. He stated: “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…” Armistice Day was originally observed in the United States with parades, public meetings, and a brief suspension of business beginning at 1100.
However, in 1938, Congress approved 11 November, “Armistice Day,” as a federal holiday and dedicated it to the cause of world peace. In 1954, after World War II and the Korean War, in response to urging by veterans’ service organizations, Congress replaced the word “Armistice” with “Veterans” to commemorate a day to honor veterans of all wars.
This is an important day to recognize and remember the sacrifices of our veterans and their families to keep our country safe and safeguard our way of life. From World War I to the current campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and beyond, our veterans have an experience to share and we should take the time to listen, to learn, and to remember. Their important stories are interwoven into the fabric that shapes our country and strengthens the bond between our families and our citizens.
We proudly salute our warfighters who made a commitment to uphold the constitution and defend our nation from all enemies. I ask that you join me in paying tribute to generations of veterans on this Veterans Day.
Thank you for your service.