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The History of Veterans Day

November 8th, 2013 Seasonal

Every year on November 11, our nation takes a break in commemoration of the men and women who've put their lives on the line in the name of the USA. With so many young military members returning from, in some cases, multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, the sentiment of gratitude expressed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919 remains as relevant now as it was at the conclusion of World War I.

"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," said Wilson, while declaring November 11 the first official Armistice Day, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs website.

Many nations that were involved in World War I still celebrate some variation on Armistice Day on November 11, with the notable exception of Italy, which celebrates  the Armistice of Villa Giusti on November 4.

Armistice Day was officially declared a national holiday in 1938, and rechristened Veterans Day in 1954. Just under two decades later, Veterans Day was moved to the final Monday of every October in accordance with the 1968 Uniform Monday Holiday Act. In theory, the law was designed to promote travel and culture by fixing it so four national holidays - Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Columbus Day - all fell on Mondays. However, changing the date for Veterans Day was unpopular with many legislatures and citizens, so it was moved back to November 11 a short time later, in 1975.