Origins of Veterans Day “To Honor Veterans of All Wars”

Raymond Weeks of Birmingham, Alabama organized an Armistice Day parade for that city on November 11, 1947 to honor Veterans for their loyal service. Later, U.S. Representative Edward H. Rees of Kansas proposed legislation changing the name of Armistice Day to Veterans Day – to honor all Veterans who have served America. In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill proclaiming November 11th as Veterans Day and called upon Americans everywhere to re-dedicate themselves to the cause of peace. He issued a presidential order directing the head of the Veterans Administration (now the Department of Veterans Affairs) to form a Veterans Day National Committee to organize and oversee the national observance of Veterans Day. In addition to fulfilling that mission, the committee oversees the annual production and distribution of a Veterans Day poster and a Teachers Resource Guide. In 1968, Congress moved Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. However, it became apparent that the November 11th date – the end of World War I – was historically significant to many Americans. As a result, Congress formally returned the observance of Veterans Day to its traditional date in 1978. The Veterans Day National Ceremony is held each year on November 11th at Arlington National Cemetery. At 11 a.m., a color guard made up of members from each branch of the military renders honors to America’s war dead during a tradition-rich ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The President or his representative places a wreath at the Tomb and a bugler sounds “Taps.” The balance of the ceremony, including a “Parade of Flags” by numerous VSOs, takes place inside the Memorial Amphitheater, adjacent to the Tomb. In addition to planning and coordinating the National Veterans Day Ceremony, the Veterans Day National Committee supports a number of Veterans Day Regional Sites. These sites conduct Veterans Day celebrations that provide excellent examples for other communities to follow.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs H.R.7786 into law on June 1, 1954, changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day.

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