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The first Veterans Day was held in 1919, when World War I had just ended.

November 11th is a special day in the United States, known as Veterans Day. The holiday commemorates the end of World War I, which came to an end on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. However, there is more to Veterans Day than simply honoring veterans who served during World War I. In fact, it’s important to know that November 11th was not always known as Veterans Day. The history of this holiday dates back over 100 years and includes several different names and celebrations.

What is Veterans Day?

Veterans Day began as Armistice Day on November 11th, 1919. This date marked the anniversary of the signing of the armistice between Germany and France at Compiègne Forest near Paris on November 11th, 1918. Armistice Day was a day for Americans to remember those who died fighting for their country during World War I and also celebrate those who survived and returned home safely from battle.

Photo: Charles Cushman Collection

Why did it change?

One year after Armistice Day became a federal holiday in 1920, Congress renamed it “War Memorial Day” to honor veterans from all wars including those who fought during World War II and other conflicts around that time period.

In 1938 Congress decided that November should be a time for Americans to honor their veterans every year instead of just once a year on November 11th so they changed its name again to “Armistice Day” which remained its official name until 1954 when President Eisenhower signed legislation officially changing it back into “Veterans’ Day” once again.

In 1968 President Johnson signed legislation designating every October 10th as National Vietnam War Veterans’ Week. Since then this week has been expanded into National Vietnam War Veteran’s Month with special ceremonies being held each year throughout October.