The History of Veterans Day
In 1921, an unknown World War I American soldier was buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. This site is located on a hillside overlooking the city of Washington and has now become the central point to pay our respects to American veterans.
Similar ceremonies occurred earlier in England and France, where an unknown soldier was buried in their nation's highest place of honor. In England this place is located in Westminster Abbey and in France it is located at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. All these ceremonies took place on November 11th. It gave universal recognition to the day that marked the end of fighting in World War I (November 11, 1918 at 11 a.m). This day is known worldwide as "Armistice Day".
Armistice Day officially received its name in America in 1926 through a resolution passed by Congress. It became a national holiday 12 years later. The idealistic hope was that World War I was "the War to end all Wars." Unfortunately that was not the case as war broke out in Europe a few years later and over 16 million Americans took part in it. Due to this war, November 11 is no longer called the Armistice day in the US.
Armistice Day Changed To Honor All Veterans
World War II broke out in 1939 and lasted till 1945. The Korean War, between the U.S. and North Korea, happened a few years later and lasted for four years (1950 – 1953). In 1954 President Eisenhower signed a bill declaring November 11 as Veterans Day, as a day to honor all of brave men and women that have served America in all wars.
In 1958 a few other unknown veterans were interred in the Arlington National Cemetery. Some from World War II and some from the Korean War. In 1968 a law passed that changed the national commemoration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. It soon became apparent, however, that November 11 was a date of historic significance to many Americans. Therefore, in 1978 Congress returned the observance to its traditional date.
Great Britain and France commemorate this day, but it is continued to be called Armistice Day in those countries. Canada also, observes the day but, it is called Remembrance Day.
Ceremonies at Arlington Cemetery
We observe Veterans day with parades and speeches. The main location for official, national ceremonies for Veterans Day continues to be the memorial amphitheater that was built around the Tomb of the Unknowns. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA is decorated with flowers and a ceremony is conducted to remember all those who have fallen in battles over the years. At 11 a.m. on November 11, a combined color guard representing all military services executes "Present Arms" at the tomb. The nation's tribute to its war dead is symbolized by the laying of a Presidential Wreath.
Difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day
Veterans Day, honors all those who serve - without regard to whether or not they have served in a war. It is a time to let every man or woman who wears or has worn the uniform of the U.S. military know how much this country appreciates and honors their service. This is a holiday of joy and is marked with parades, fireworks and joyous activities.
Memorial Day is a holiday of solemn remembrance. It is a time to be reminded that the freedom that we take for granted in this country is not, in fact, free. This freedom has been paid for by the brave men and women who gave it their life for it selflessly. Memorial Day is a time to reflect on the price that some have paid so that the rest of us might live in peace.
cemetery - a graveyard
honor - Give high respectsolemn - serious
remembrance - The action of remembering something.
idealistic - ideal
resolution - A formal expression of opinion or intention agreed on by a legislative body
commemoration - Recall and show respect for (someone or something) in a ceremony
amphitheater - A round building, typically unroofed
tribute - An act, statement, or gift that is intended to show gratitude