2019 marks the centennial celebration of Veterans Day.
Veterans Day has long been celebrated with Armistice Day and Remembrance Day, all holidays to remember those who have served or are currently serving in the armed forces. The Primary fighting during World War I ended on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, when the Armistice with Germany went into effect. Armistice Day was formally renamed Veterans Day in 1954.
In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson sent out a message on the very first Armistice Day.
"Our enemies laid down their arms in accordance with the armistice which rendered them impotent to renew hostilities and gave to the world an assured opportunity to reconstruct its shattered order and to work out in pease a new and juster set of international rules," said President Wilson. "To us in America the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who dies 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 council of nations."
In 1926, the United States Congress adopted a resolution that asked President Calvin Coolidge to issue an annual proclamations asking for the observance of November 11 with 'appropriate ceremonies'. It wasn't until 1938 that Congress approved and act to make Armistice Day a holiday.
Raymond Weeks, a World War II veteran from Birmingham, Alabama, led a petition that would change Armistice Day from a day that only celebrated WWI veterans to include all American veterans. In 1945, Weeks gained the support of then General Dwight Eisenhower and in 1947, the first National Veterans Day was celebrated in Alabama. In 1982, just three years before his death, Weeks was awarded the Presidential Citizenship Medal by President Ronald Regan, who called Weeks the "Father of Veterans Day".
U.S. Representative Ed Rees from Emporia, Kansas presented a bill in Congress to establish the national holiday. President Eisenhower signed the bill and after a slight amendment, Armistice Day became Veterans Day and a national holiday.
Thank you veterans for your service, sacrifice and bravery for our country!