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Current Page: U.S. | Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Veterans Day: How Armistice Day Evolved Into an Observance for All American Soldiers

Veterans Day: How Armistice Day Evolved Into an Observance for All American Soldiers

Sea Cadet Connor McDonald participates in the unfurling of an American Flag at the 9/11 Memorial in New York, November 9, 2014. The flag ceremony was part of the 9/11 Memorial's Salute to Service, a five day tribute to veterans for Veterans Day. | (Photo: Reuters/Andrew Kelly)
Members of the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard stand at attention at the 9/11 Memorial in New York November 10, 2014. The 9/11 Memorial is holding a Salute to Service, a five day tribute to veterans for Veterans Day. | (Photo: Reuters/Brendan McDermid)
People unfurl an American Flag at the 9/11 Memorial in New York, November 9, 2014. The flag ceremony was part of the 9/11 Memorial's Salute to Service, a five day tribute to veterans for Veterans Day. | (Photo: Reuters/Andrew Kelly)
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (R) applauds fellow Vietnam veteran and former U.S. Senator Max Cleland, D-Ga., while attending ceremonies marking the 2014 National POW/MIA Recognition Day at the Pentagon in Washington, September 19, 2014. Cleland lost both legs and his right forearm during service as an U.S. Army Captain in Vietnam. | (Photo: Reuters/Gary Cameron)
World War II veterans from Rhode Island listen during a ceremony at the National World War II Memorial marking the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Europe on June 6, 1944, while in Washington, June 6, 2014. The veterans arrived on the Rhode Island Association of Fire Chiefs Foundation honor flight earlier today. | (Photo: Reuters/Larry Downing)

Americans across the country will be observing Veterans Day on Tuesday, a federal holiday dedicated to those who've served in the United States Armed Forces, regardless of the era, or branch of service.

While now dedicated to American soldiers of all wars, Veterans Day has its roots in the end of World War I.

"On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the First World War," noted history.com.

"Commemorated as Armistice Day beginning the following year, Nov. 11 became a legal federal holiday in the United States in 1938. In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars."

One year after the cessation of hostilities in World War I, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11, 1919, to be Armistice Day.

"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," stated Wilson.

Birmingham, Alabama, lays claim to having had the first official Veterans Day parade, according to Jeremy Gray of al.com.

"Gen. Omar Bradley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was the keynote speaker. Birmingham native and World War II veteran Raymond Weeks pioneered the concept, founding the NVD nonprofit in 1945," wrote Gray.

"Weeks lobbied Army Chief of Staff Dwight Eisenhower to support the creation of the holiday. It took seven years of lobbying, but in 1954 Congress made Veterans Day a national holiday. President Eisenhower signed it into law. Weeks headed the NVD nonprofit until his death in 1985."

As a federal holiday, government offices are closed for the observance. However, there's no single policy for public schools, with individual school districts across the nation each determining whether or not to close.

There are many ways that people honor those who served. These include parades featuring veterans as well as other ceremonies.

Some churches hold special services wherein veterans are encouraged to come to worship in uniform and/or are asked to stand so as to receive recognition for their service.

In the Washington, D.C. area, various events have been scheduled for this year's observance of Veterans Day. These include a Veterans Day concert held at the National Mall and wreath-laying ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery and other memorials in or near the nation's capital.

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