Veterans Day began as Armistice Day in 1919, when President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the holiday to celebrate the temporary cessation of hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany during World War I on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.
At the time, World War I was considered the “war to end all wars,” but World War II disproved that assumption, resulting in a 1954 decision to rename Armistice Day as Veterans Day to honor the veterans of all wars.
The Uniform Monday Holiday Act (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250)), signed on June 28, 1968, by President Lyndon Johnson was intended to ensure three-day weekends for federal employees by celebrating national holidays on Mondays: Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. It was thought that these extended weekends would encourage travel and stimulate greater industrial and commercial production.
Many states did not agree with this decision and continued to celebrate the holidays on their original dates According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website, the first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on October 25, 1971.
“It was quite apparent that the commemoration of this day was a matter of historic and patriotic significance to a great number of our citizens, and so on September 20th, 1975, President Gerald Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978,” it said.
Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls.
“The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good,” VA said.
There are 12 federal holidays: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Inauguration Day, George Washington’s birthday, Memorial Day, Juneteenth, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
The majority of federal employees will receive the day off work Friday, Nov. 11, to honor Veterans Day this year.