November 11, or what has come to be known as Veterans Day, was originally set as a US legal holiday to honor Armistice Day – the end of World War I, which officially took place on November 11, 1918. In legislature that was passed in 1938, November 11 was “dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day.’” As such, this new legal holiday honored World War l veterans.
In 1954, after having been through both World War II and the Korean War, the 83rd US Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
In 1968, the Uniform Holiday Bill ensured three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington’s birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Columbus Day. Under this bill, Veterans Day was moved to the last Monday of October. Many states did not agree with this decision and continued to celebrate the holiday on its original date. The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on October 25, 1971.
Finally, on September 20, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed a law which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978. Since then, the Veterans Day holiday has been observed on November 11. Marines, of course, believe that the holiday on November 11 is the nation’s way of giving them a day off after their Marine Corps birthday celebration – on November 10.
As a tribute to our veterans, let me share a popular poem originally written by A. Lawrence Vaincourt in 1987 and tweaked slightly over time: