On June 28, 1919 the signing of the Treaty of Versailles ended World War I, otherwise known as "The Great War". The fighting however stopped 7 months earlier when an armistice, temporary suspension of hostilities by agreement between opponents, went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11th as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "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…"
On May 13, 1938 an Act was approved to make November 11th of each year a legal holiday and was hereby known as "Armistice Day". This day was set aside to honor the veterans of World War I.
After America was attacked by Japan on December 7, 1941, America entered into World War II under the direction of President Roosevelt. This was the largest and bloodiest war in world history. At the urging of veterans service organizations, the original Act was amended to strike out the word "Armistice" and replace it with "Veterans" The 83rd Congress approved this on June 1, 1954. November 11th became the day to honor American veterans of all wars.
On June 28, 1968 President Johnson signed the "The Uniform Holiday Bill" which was to insure three day weekends for Federal employees to celebrate four national holidays: Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Columbus Day. The thought behind this bill was to encourage travel, recreation and cultural activities with families and children. Not all states had agreed with this bill and chose to celebrate the holiday on their original dates.
The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on October 25, 1971. An overwhelming number of major veterans organizations, state legislatures and American people expressed concern that Veterans Day would lose its historic and patriotic significance if not celebrated on November 11th. On September 20th, 1975, President Ford returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11th, beginning in 1978.
Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11th, no matter which day of the week it falls on. Not only does this preserve the historic significance, it also helps us to focus on the importance of the day.