Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Learning | The History of Veteran's Day

Do you know why we celebrate Veteran's Day in November?  It all started with the Great War, the War to End All Wars, known more commonly to us as World War I.  That war began with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914; fighting ended in 1918 with the Armistice, which began on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month: November 11, 1918.  The war did not officially end until the Treaty of Versailles was signed the next June, but we remember the date the fighting ceased.

In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed that Armistice Day would be celebrated on the 11th, with the following speech:

 "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…"

Armistice Day began as a celebration of the service of veterans of the Great War, but by 1954, it was obvious that veterans of World War II and the Korean War should be included. So congress changed the name of the holiday from "Armistice Day" to "Veterans Day," a day to honor veterans of all wars.

If you would like to learn more about the history of Veteran's Day, you should visit this web page from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, on the day he was killed in 1914. Photo courtesy of Semilla Luz's photostream on Some rights reserved.. 
If you would like to learn more about the events that led to World War I, SSJCPL has a book for you: Assassination of the Archduke: Sarajevo 1914 and the Romance That Changed the World

If you would like to hear about some of the veterans of World War I (85 years after the war ended--when these men were over 100 years old!) you will enjoy reading The Last of the Doughboys: the Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War.

Next Monday, whether you find yourself watching a parade, attending a commemorative event, shopping for sales, or just enjoying a day off of work, please remember to thank all the veterans in your life for their service.

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