By Claudine Zap
While most know that Veterans Day honors those who have served in the military, the meaning behind its exact date (November 11) may not be so familiar. Here’s the back-story:
Back in 1918, in the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, a stop to hostilities was declared, ending World War I. An armistice to cease the fighting on the Western Front was signed by the Allied powers and Germany.
President Woodrow Wilson immediately proclaimed the day “Armistice Day,” kicking off the annual commemoration on November 11. But over the years, with veterans returning from World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day — a day reserved to honor veterans returning from all wars. But 11/11 still represented the end of the Great War in the public’s mind, and the date stuck. In 1921, unidentified dead from the war were buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., Westminster Abbey in London, and the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The tradition to honor those killed in the war but never identified continues every year in the U.S. The ceremony is held at 11 a.m. at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.
Congress designated Veterans Day as a legal holiday in 1938, and since then, most Americans have come to know it as a day for store sales and parades. Yahoo! Searches on the holiday have already surged on the Web. People want to know “veterans day history,” “veterans day closings,” veterans day sales,” and “veterans day free meals.”