Veterans Day

 

Veterans Day: Americans will always fight for liberty

 

Veterans Day

 

When Armistice Day was declared a federal holiday by Congress in 1938, the date November 11 was chosen to commemorate the close of World War I. During the House debate preceding passage of this legislation, it was suggested that Armistice Day would “not be devoted to the exaltation of glories achieved in war but, rather, to an emphasis upon those blessings which are associated with the peacetime activities of mankind.” Armistice Day would mark not only the “end of a great war,” but also the ushering “in of a new era of peace.” The “holiday was dedicated to the cause of world peace,” and as such was to be “regarded and observed throughout the land as a day to honor the veterans of the First World War who fought, and especially those who died, for that cause.”

Making Armistice Day a “national peace holiday” was a proposal which had the “enthusiastic approval” of all of the societies representing World War I veterans.20 In 1938, Armistice Day was already a state holiday in 44 states, and the other four states had made it a holiday by gubernatorial action. Although it was recognized that Congress did not have the authority “to fix a national holiday within the different States,” enactment of this bill, it was felt, would bring Congress “into harmony with sentiment in the United States.” By 1954, however, the United States had been involved in two other military engagements, World War II and the Korean conflict. Instead of creating additional federal holidays to commemorate the ending of these hostilities, Congress felt it would be better to commemorate the sacrifices of American veterans all on one day. On June 1, 1954, the name of Armistice Day was officially changed to Veterans Day. This legislation did not establish a new holiday. Rather, it broadened the “significance of an existing holiday in order that a grateful nation, on a day dedicated to the cause of world peace, may pay homage to all of its veterans.”
Fourteen years later, Congress designated Veterans Day to be one of five holidays that would henceforth be celebrated on a Monday and changed the date of the holiday from November 11 to the fourth Monday in October. Congress returned Veterans Day to its original November 11 date in 1975, after it became apparent that “veterans’ organizations opposed the change, and 46 states either never changed the original observation date or returned the official observance to November 11.” Excerpted from Stephen W. Stathis (1999)Federal Holiday: Evolution and Application. CRS Report for Congress