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Sunday, November 11, 2007


This poster was created for Veterans Day 1986.
Image courtesy of the Veterans Administration.


When President Abraham Lincoln stood to address the war-torn nation in his Second Inaugural Address in 1865, he made a promise to our nation’s veterans, saying that America would “…care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan.” Those words of President Lincoln’s became the motto of the Veterans Administration.

A few generations later, when the end came to World War I, November 11, 1919 was set aside to commemorate the sacrifices made by American soldiers to gain a lasting peace for the world. Called Armistice Day, soldiers who survived the war marched in parades through their home towns. Dignitaries and veterans made speeches and held ceremonies of thanks for the peace that had been won.

Had WWI been the “war to end all wars,” we would probably still observe Armistice Day today. After WWII, Armistice Day continued to be observed, but Americans realized that there was a need to recognize those who had made sacrifices in other conflicts.

In 1954, President Eisenhower signed a bill proclaiming November 11 as Veterans Day, and called upon Americans everywhere to rededicate themselves to the cause of peace. He issued a Presidential Order directing the head of the Veterans Administration, now the Department of Veterans Affairs, to form a Veterans Day National Committee to organize and oversee the national observance of Veterans Day. November 11 was designated as Veterans Day to honor veterans of all U.S. wars.

In 1971 President Nixon declared it a federal holiday on the second Monday in November, but it became apparent that November 11 was too historically significant to bypass, so in 1978 Congress formally returned the observance of Veterans Day to the customary date of November 11.

This Veterans Day, ceremonies and observances will be held throughout the country--prayer services, rallies, assembly programs, parades, patriotic speeches, and graveside flag displays. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery outside
Washington D.C. where thousands of service personnel are buried is the focus of the nation's tribute on Veterans Day.