The day once known as Armistice Day: a (not so secret) history

Veterans DayLike the rest of the country, Mead & Hunt honors its veterans on November 11th each year. As we celebrate this Veterans Day, we thought it would be helpful to provide a little context for this important holiday. As of 2018, the United States is home to 18.2 million living veterans. Roughly 1.7 million of them are women. Of the 16 million people that served in World War II, roughly 325,000 are still alive. There are currently 69 living Medal of Honor recipients, two of whom are World War II veterans.

Most people know Veterans Day is a day to honor veterans. But how much of the background surrounding Veterans Day do you actually know? There are plenty of interesting facts about the day. For example:

  • The commemoration officially starts on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month because that is when the armistice went into effect between the Allied powers and Germany in 1918.
  • President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first Armistice Day national remembrance in November 1919, one year after the cessation of hostilities in what was then known as The Great War. But the war itself did not end until the Treaty of Versailles was signed in June 1919.
  • Despite the proclamation, Congress did not establish November 11th as a national holiday until 1938.
  • In 1954, following World War II and the Korean War, Congress amended the holiday to Veterans Day to include those who fought in all of America’s wars. Now it honors all veterans of the armed forces, regardless of wartime service.
  • From 1971 to 1978, Veterans Day was celebrated on the fourth Monday in October, as required by the Uniform Monday Holiday Act that also permanently established Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, and Labor Day as Monday holidays. In 1978, Veterans Day was reverted to November 11th in response to the objections of various veteran’s groups.
  • Many incorrectly think the holiday’s name is “Veteran’s Day” or “Veterans’ Day.” The holiday is not a day that “belongs” to one veteran or multiple veterans, which is what an apostrophe implies. It’s a day for honoring all veterans — so no apostrophe needed.
  • Veterans Day is not the same as Memorial Day. Memorial Day is a time to remember those who gave their lives for our country, particularly in battle or from wounds they suffered in battle. Veterans Day honors all those who have served the country in war or peace — dead or alive — although it’s largely intended to thank living veterans for their sacrifices.
  • Veterans Day is not unique to the United States. Canada and Australia observe “Remembrance Day” on November 11th, while Great Britain observes “Remembrance Day” on the Sunday closest to November 11th. Ceremonies are held in Kenya about two weeks after November 11th. This is because word of the armistice took two weeks to reach troops in Africa.
  • You will often see Canadians wearing poppies on Remembrance Day. This refers to John McCrae’s poem, “In Flanders Fields.” We encourage you to read it here.
  • If you want to learn even more interesting facts about the day, you can try testing your knowledge with this quiz.

Mead & Hunt’s Employee Resource Group will be hosting a Military Interest Group Hangout today to educate and support our employees. We believe it’s extremely important to understand the context surrounding the day, and honor the sacrifices made by our veterans.

Rick Burtt, COL, USAR

About the Author

As the Market Leader for the Army National Guard & Army Reserve, Rick Burtt, COL, USAR is an experienced project and program manager with extensive background in construction management, architectural engineering, planning, and leadership. He has extensive experience leading large teams through complex projects successfully. Outside of work, Rick is a Colonel in the Army Reserve. He enjoys backpacking, cooking, and exploring new craft cocktails.

One response on “The day once known as Armistice Day: a (not so secret) history

  1. Wonderful post, Rick! I certainly learned some new facts! Thank you and all of our service members for your brave and selfless sacrifice. We salute you!

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