On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, the allied powers and Germany declared an armistice or end of hostilities. So ended the Great war that had started with the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. 70 million men had been mustered into the military. 10 million had died, 21 million were wounded and another 8 million were missing.
For the two generations of Europeans who’d grown up during the 50 years of peace proceeding World War I, it must truly have seemed like Hell had taken over Earth. Four empires had fallen in the bloodshed and the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919 laid the seeds of more devastating times yet to come.
On the one year anniversary of the armistice, President Wilson said, “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory…”
Congress officially recognized the day as the end of the war in 1926, but Armistice day did not become an national holiday until 1938. Although it originally was to recognize those who fought and survived World War I, President Eisenhower asked Congress to change the word armistice to veterans, including all those who fought. In 1954, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, honoring all veterans of all wars.
So, to all the veterans who’ve fought for this country, thank you.
And, hey, Dad! Now that you’re retired you finally get the day off!