Today, November 11, 2022, marks Veterans Day. The modern Veterans Day was first observed pursuant to Presidential Proclamation 3071, signed by then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower on October 8, 1954. Below, we will follow President Einsenhower’s proclamation, which detailed the well-known origins of the November 11 remembrance.

1959 portrait of then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
1959 portrait of then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Retrieved from Wikimedia.

President Eisenhower began:

Whereas it has long been our custom to commemorate November 11, the anniversary of the ending of World War I, by paying tribute to the heroes of that tragic struggle and by rededicating ourselves to the cause of peace…”

November 11, 1918, marks the Armistice Agreement which ended the First World War.

The proclamation continues:

Whereas the Congress passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926 (44 Stat. 1982), calling for the observance of November 11 with appropriate ceremonies, and later provided in an act approved May 13, 1938 (52 Stat. 351), that the eleventh of November should be a legal holiday and should be known as Armistice Day…

November 11 was first recognized in the United States as an occasion tied to World War I. While Eisenhower’s military career reached its apex in World War II, he had earned an Army Distinguished Service Medal for his 1918 service as Commanding Officer of the Tank Corps Service Center at Camp Colt in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

President Eisenhower’s Proclamation turned November 11 into an occasion for honoring all of America’s war veterans:

Whereas, in order to expand the significance of that commemoration and in order that a grateful Nation might pay appropriate homage to the veterans of all its wars who have contributed so much to the preservation of this Nation, the Congress, by an act approved June 1, 1954 (68 Stat. 168), changed the name of the holiday to Veterans Day…

Having established Veterans Day as a national holiday by Presidential Proclamation, President Eisenhower explained its purpose:

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. I also direct the appropriate officials of the Government to arrange for the display of the flag of the United States on all public buildings on Veterans Day.

Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day, an occasion for remembering those Americans who have fought and died in America’s wars. Today we honor the veterans who served. While taking the opportunity to recognize and honor America’s veterans for their service and sacrifices, we should also remember the original significance of November 11, 1918, the occasion on which the First World War, which brought suffering to millions in Europe and which took the lives of many of our own armed forces members, finally ended. (I note that many of our foreign readers recognize today as Armistice or Remembrance Day.)