World War I – also known as “The Great War” – officially came to an end upon the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919. The fighting, however, had stopped seven months earlier when an armistice or temporary cessation of hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Thus, November 11, 1918, is regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”
"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, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations,” proclaimed President Wilson in November 1919, establishing November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day.
Originally, the celebration was a day of observation with parades, public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 AM.
Approved May 13, 1938, an Act of Congress (52 Stat. 351; 5 U.S. Code, Sec. 87a) made 11 November each year a legal holiday, dedicated to the cause of world peace and known as “Armistice Day.” The primary intent was to honor veterans of World War I. After World War II required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history and after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress amended the Act of 1938 by removing the word “Armistice” inserting “Veterans” in its place. This legislation was approved on June 1, 1954, making November 11 the day to honor American veterans of all wars.
On October 8, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first “Veterans Day Proclamation”.
"In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible."
Some of my closest friends are veterans, having served their country with incredible selflessness. I am grateful for their dedication. I am grateful for everyone who’s served and protected our country. I am particularly grateful to those who’ve given their lives in defending our constitution, our freedoms and our land. I am grateful for those soldiers who've fought from the foundations of this great country, gaining then preserving our freedoms. We would not be who we are if it weren't for their great actions. From revolutionaries to the Marines fighting in Afganistan and Iraq they all deserve our gratitude. Thank you, thank you, thank you.