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The history of Veterans Day

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Raymond Weeks of Birmingham, Alabama, organized an Armistice Day parade for that city on Nov. 11, 1947, to honor Veterans for their loyal service. Later, U.S. Representative Edward H. Rees of Kansas proposed legislation changing the name of Armistice Day to Veterans Day, to honor all Veterans who have served America.

In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill proclaiming Nov. 11 as Veterans Day and called upon Americans everywhere to re-dedicate themselves to the cause of peace. He issued a presidential order directing the head of the then-known Veterans Administration (now the Department of Veterans Affairs) to form a Veterans Day National Committee to organize and oversee the national observance of Veterans Day.

In 1968, Congress moved Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. However, it became apparent that the date Nov. 11—the end of World War I—was historically significant to many Americans. As a result, Congress formally returned the observance of Veterans Day to its traditional date in 1978.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The Veterans Day National Ceremony is held each year on Nov. 11 at Arlington National Cemetery. At 11 a.m., a color guard made up of members from each branch of the military renders honors to America’s war dead during a tradition-rich ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The president or his representative places a wreath at the tomb and a bugler sounds taps. The balance of the ceremony, including a parade of flags by numerous Veteran Service Organizations, takes place inside the Memorial Amphitheater, next to the tomb.

Each year, there is a competition to design the Veterans Day poster. This year, there were more than 60 entries from people ranging from school-aged children to graphic designers with decades of experience. When all ballots were tallied, “The Bugler” by Gene Russell, was selected. Russell is a service-connected disabled Army Infantry Veteran and VA employee.

Here are links to some Veterans Day events around the country.

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