November 11 is Veterans Day, a federal holiday dedicated to recognizing the service of all U.S. Armed Forces veterans. But the date was initially designated with a different name and a more limited scope.
Veterans Day was originally known as Armistice Day and was intended to celebrate those who served in World War I. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Armistice Day would be commemorated in the United States on Nov. 11.
Although the Treaty of Versailles, which effectively ended World War I, was not signed until June 19, 1919, fighting actually ceased seven months earlier with the armistice between the allied nations and Germany. The armistice took effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. In 1938, Nov. 11 officially became a federal holiday known as Armistice Day.
Following World War II and the U.S. involvement in Korea, there was a growing movement to expand Armistice Day to recognize all veterans. In 1954, Congress amended the previous act, striking “Armistice” and replacing it with “Veterans.”
On Oct. 8, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued his Veterans Day Proclamation, in which he called upon all American citizens to observe Nov. 11 as Veterans Day:
“On that day let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.”
That was not the end to the Veterans Day saga, however. In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which was intended to provide three-day weekends for federal employees by celebrating four federal holidays—George Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Columbus Day—on Mondays.
It was believed that the extended weekends would generate commercial and industrial revenue by encouraging travel, recreational and cultural activities. Many states opposed the law and continued to celebrate the holidays on their previously established dates, creating significant confusion.
Acknowledging this befuddlement and the historical significance of the date, Congress and President Gerald R. Ford returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to Nov. 11 beginning in 1978. As America celebrates Veterans Day on Nov. 11, many other allied nations and commonwealth countries honor their own veterans with Armistice Day and Remembrance Day.
Beginning at 11 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 11, 2013, Louisville will host its annual Veterans Day Parade. A new route this year will take the parade from Fourth and Chestnut Streets north on Fourth to Main Street.
The parade review stand will be located at the front of the Kentucky Center, and the first unit of the parade is scheduled to arrive at the review stand at 11:11 a.m., the time of the armistice and cease fire that ended combat in World War I. The parade will feature veterans, veterans’ service organizations, restored antique military vehicles and equipment, active-duty military units, and re-enactment groups.
At 1 p.m., there will be a wreath-laying ceremony at the Louisville Metro Hall in honor of U.S. military veterans. For additional information on the parade route and other Veterans Day events in Louisville, Kentucky, please see the Louisville Veterans Day Parade page.