The History of Veterans Day
On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the year 1918, exactly 100 years ago, representatives of the German Empire signed an armistice ending the fighting in World War I on sea, air, and land*. The occasion’s importance in marking the end of “the war to end all wars” was commemorated around the world. Armistice Day, as it was initially called in America, was made an official legal holiday in 1938.
Armistice Day was to honor veterans of WWI, but it was one man’s commitment to honoring all veterans that spurred the creation of Veterans Day. In 1945, a WWII Navy veteran from Alabama named Raymond Weeks thought there should be a day to honor all veterans, not just those who fought in WWI. He brought his petition for a National Veterans Day to General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who at the time was Army Chief of Staff. General Eisenhower was in full support of the proposition, and the next year Weeks would lead the first national celebration of all veterans in Birmingham, AL. He would return to his role every year thereafter until his death in 1985, earning him the moniker “the Father of Veterans Day”. Weeks was given the Presidential Citizenship Medal by President Ronald Reagan on Veterans Day in 1982 to honor his devotion to ensuring a day of remembrance and thanks for all American veterans.
CircleRock thanks all of America’s veterans for their sacrifices in defending the freedoms we continue to enjoy.
*I can’t let the opportunity pass to mention Dan Carlin’s “Blueprint for Armageddon” series from his Hardcore History podcast. It dives headfirst into WWI, which is a fascinating but horrifying place to be, and I can’t recommend it enough. The war resulted in 40 million casualties, an estimated 15 to 19 million lives lost (117,000 American), and demonstrated to the entire world the terrifying results of technological advancement and industrialized warfare.