With the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier making this Nov. 11 special, it is a good time to revisit the history of Veterans Day and where it is officially observed in Washington, D.C.
World War I, originally known as “The Great War” or “the war to end all wars” (only after a second world war proved the latter term wrong was it then recognized as the first world war) ended on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour in 1918 – the exact time an armistice took effect. Thus, in 1938, Congress passed legislation to establish Nov. 11 as “Armistice Day” to honor veterans who had fought in it. However, in 1954, after the U.S. had fought two more conflicts – World War II and Korea – due to pressure from veterans groups seeking to honor all who served in America’s wars, the 1938 legislation was amended with one simple word change – replacing “Armistice” with “Veterans.”
Official observations of Veterans Day involve a ceremony in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia in front of one of the most visited sites there – the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The president of the United States traditionally places a wreath at the Tomb to honor those who have served in all our wars and those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
The Tomb contains the remains of an unidentified soldier who died in World War I.