November 8, 2005
Back in May, writing about Decoration Day, I promised an exciting conclusion to the “forgotten past names of minor American holidays” series this week. I’m on vacation the rest of the week, so I’ll post today about Friday’s holiday, what we now call Veterans Day but what Grandma Hazel still periodically calls Armistice Day. Once again, Wikipedia to the rescue.
Armistice Day is the anniversary of the official end of World War I, November 11, 1918. It commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front, which took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning — the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.”
Following World War II, the name of the holiday was changed (enacted June 1, 1954) to Veterans Day to honor those who served in all American wars. The day has since evolved to primarily be a time of honoring living veterans who have served in the military during wartime or peacetime, partially due to competition (competition?) with Memorial Day, which primarily honors the dead.
Many nations within the British Commonwealth observe a similar occasion on November 11, Remembrance Day.