World War I. The Great War. The War to End All Wars. No matter what you call it, the conflict which resulted in more than 38 million casualties officially ended on June 28, 1919 at the Palace of Versailles. However, a temporary cessation of hostilities between the Allies and Germany went into effect months before at the “eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month.” And so, November 11, 1918 is what most people consider to be the end of the First World War.
One year later, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. An Act of Congress in 1938 made the 11th of November every year a legal holiday, to be known as Armistice Day, to honor veterans of World War I. In 1954 this was amended to honor American veterans of all wars, and the name changed to Veterans Day.
This November 11, let us all take a moment to so as President Eisenhower requested in his Proclamation in 1954 and “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.”
For a brief timeline of the history of this federal holiday, please check out our display on the north side of the main library building. And to all you veterans out there: Thank you for your service.