by, 10-28-12 at 05:57 PM (430 Views)
After four years of carnage in Europe, the giant cannon finally fell silent. At 11:00 am on 11 November 1918 (the eleventh hour, of the 11th day, of the eleventh month) the Allies and Germany signed an armistice. The Great War, The World War, The War to End War mercifully ended. The whole world rejoiced.
Thereafter the eleventh day of November became Armistice Day in most of the western world. In Canada it became known as Remembrance Day.
In the United States, Congress officially recognized Armistice Day in 1926.
Twelve years later it became a national holiday. Unfortunately, three decades and two wars later America realized that world order had been equally preserved by veterans of World War II and the Korean War. So, in 1954 Dwight D. Eisenhower, U.S. President, signed an act which changed the name of Armistice Day to Veterans Day.
In 1968 (the flower-power generation was hard at work again) Congress changed the day of observance to the fourth Monday in October.
Veterans Day had temporarily become just another long three-day weekend. The reason for the holiday had been forgotten by many. Fortunately, the public outcry rose steadily over the next ten years. Finally bowing to public pressure, Congress reversed itself in 1978. The eleventh day of November again became the day on which Americans observe Veterans Day.
By law, Veterans Day is set aside to honor our nation's military veterans both living and dead, who served in time of war.
The focal point for national observance is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. At 11:00 am on 11 November, a color guard that includes all military services executes "Present Arms."
The President of the United States lays a wreath upon the tomb, steps back, and salutes. A bugler plays Taps. A grateful nation has not forgotten.