In 1926, Congress resolved to formally call November 11th Armistice Day. In 1938, the afternoon was called a federal holiday. Shortly afterward warfare broke out in Europe, and World War II started.Likewise, unknown soldiers were buried in England in Westminster Abbey and in France in the Arc de Triomphe. Every one of these memorials happened on November 11th to commemorate the conclusion of this “war to end all wars.”
Shortly after the conclusion of World War II, a veteran of that war called Raymond Weeks coordinated “National Veterans Day” with a parade and festivities to honor all veterans. He opted to hold this on Armistice Day. Thus started annual observances of a day to honor all veterans not only the conclusion of World War I. Back in 1954, Congress formally passed and President Dwight Eisenhower signed a bill proclaiming November 11 as Veteran’s Day. Because of his role in the development of the federal holiday, Raymond Weeks received the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Ronald Reagan at November 1982.
Back in 1968, Congress changed the national commemoration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October.
On the other hand, the importance of November 11 was such that the altered date never actually got established. Back in 1978, Congress returned the observance of Veterans Day to its original date.
On Memorial Day, 1958, two unidentified soldiers were interred at Arlington National Cemetery having perished in World War II and the Korean War.
In 1984, an unidentified soldier that perished in the Vietnam War has been put near the others. But this previous soldier was later exhumed, and that he had been identified as Air Force 1st Lieutenant Michael Joseph Blassie. Therefore, his own body has been removed. These unidentified soldiers are emblematic of all Americans that gave their lives in all wars. Witnessing the changing of the guards in Arlington National Cemetery is an extremely moving occasion.
National ceremonies commemorating Veterans Day happen annually in the memorial amphitheater built around the Tomb of the Unknowns. At 11 AM on November 11, a color guard representing all military services executes “Present Arms” at the tomb. Subsequently, the presidential elections are laid on the grave. At length, the bugler plays taps.
Every Veterans Day should be a time when Americans stop and recall the courageous people who have risked their own lives for the United States of America. As Dwight Eisenhower stated:
“…it’s well for us to pause, to acknowledge our debt to those who paid so big a share of liberty cost. As we stand here in thankful remembrance of the veterans’ gifts we renew our conviction of individual obligation to live in ways that encourage that the eternal truths upon which our Nation is based, and from which flows all of its power and all its greatness.”