(excerpt from Warrior
Culture of the U.S. Marines, copyright 2001 Marion F. Sturkey)
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
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
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.