November 11 (otherwise known as Veterans Day) has become a day to honor American veterans of all wars. Here is a brief history of how this day came to be.
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, a temporary cease fire was declared between the Allied nations and Germany during World War I. Though the way only officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, November 11 remained as the date that publicly marked the end of the Great War.
It wasn’t until 1954, in order to include veterans from World War II and the Korean War, that Congress amended the 1938 act that had made Armistice Day a holiday, changing the word “Armistice” and replacing it with “Veterans.” President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the legislation on June 1, 1954.
From then on, November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars. Today in the United States, an official wreath-laying ceremony is held each Veterans Day at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery, while parades and other celebrations are held around the country, with members of the public pouring out to support the troops and their families, honoring their bravery and sacrifice.
But Veterans Day is not just celebrated in the United States. There are many versions of it around the world, honoring their troops as well. Britain, France, Australia and Canada also honor the veterans of World Wars I and II on or near November 11: Canada has Remembrance Day, Britain has Remembrance Sunday (the second Sunday of November). In Europe, Britain and the Commonwealth countries it is common to observe two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. every November 11.
Here is a video showing the history of the national day of honoring members of the armed forces.
New York City’s Veterans Day Parade will take a slightly different approach this year — for the first time, three Grand Marshals will lead the 30-block parade up Fifth Avenue, each of them both a 9/11 first responder and a veteran of the nation’s post-9/11 wars.
The three are:
Port Authority Acting COO Stephanie Dawson, an Army National Guard colonel who commanded troops at Ground Zero and served in Kuwait as part of Operation Enduring Freedom and later in Iraq.
NYPD Det. Nelson Vergara, who worked for months at Ground Zero and served with the Marine Corps in Iraq.
FDNY Battalion Chief Joseph Duggan, who responded to 9/11 and served with the Army Reserve in Iraq.
“Our three grand marshals represent the centuries-old tradition of our veterans who continue to serve their community after their service to our nation is concluded,” said Doug McGowan, a Marine vet and the chair of United War Veterans Council, the nonprofit that runs what’s officially known as America’s Parade.
“Our first responders and our veterans remind us that 9/11 was at once our darkest moment and our finest hour.”
The Nov. 11 march will commemorate the 15th anniversary of 9/11 while honoring first responders as well as the men and women who’ve served the nation.
Approximately 40,000 veterans, active-duty personnel and their supporters from 30 states will begin the march with a memorial ceremony at the Eternal Light Monument on Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street.
That monument is dedicated to those who served in the First World War, whose conclusion made Nov. 11 first Armistice Day, and now Veterans Day.
The parade is always an inspiration; and this year especially, there’s even more reason to attend and show support and give our thanks to American veterans.
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