In honor of Veterans Day, the Indiana Military Museum is offering free admission to veterans, their spouses, and immediate family members this Thursday—Veterans Day—November 11th, 2021.
A Brief History of Veterans Day:
On November 11th, 1918 fighting ceased when an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month; effectively ending World War One. One year later, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11th as the first commemoration of “Armistice Day.”
On June 4th, 1926 Congress passed a resolution requesting that President Calvin Coolidge issued a proclamation for the annual observance of Armistice Day. It was not until May 13, 1938, though that an Act was approved, recognizing November 11th of every year as “Armistice Day,” a legal holiday dedicated to creating world peace and honoring the veterans of World War One.
After US Troops were mobilized during World War Two and the Korean War, the 83rd Congress was urged by veterans service organizations to amend the Act of 1938 to strike out the word “Armistice” and replace it with the word “Veterans.” The Act was amended on June 1st, 1954—becoming known as Public Law 380—making November 11th a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
On October 8th, 1954 President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first “Veteran’s Day Proclamation.” On the same day, President Eisenhower sent a letter to Harvey V. Higley, designating him as Chairman of the Veterans Day National Committee. In March of 1989, Veteran’s Affairs was elevated to a cabinet-level department. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs has served as the committee’s chairman.
Briefly, Veterans Day was not observed on November 11th but was celebrated on a Monday with the passing of the Uniform Holiday Bill. Veterans Day along with three other national holidays were moved to ensure three-day weekends for Federal employees; and with the intention that these extended weekends would “encourage travel, recreational and cultural activities and stimulate greater industrial and commercial production.” The first Veterans day under this new law was observed on October 25th, 1971; and the change of date was not received well by many citizens.
On September 20th, 1975 President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97, returning Veterans Day to November 11th beginning in 1978. This was supported by the majority of state legislatures, all major veterans service organizations, and the American people. Today, Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11th, no matter what day of the week it falls on.
By observing Veterans Day on its original date, November 11th “preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.”
Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs. “Veterans Affairs.” Go to VA.gov, 20 Mar. 2006, https://www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/vetdayhistory.asp.