By Al Macks, Presidio of Monterey Public AffairsNovember 7, 2011
PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. - This year marks a historic occasion. It is the first time Veterans Day is celebrated on 11/11/11, as its origin dates back only to 1918.
It was 93 years ago the guns fell silent and the First World War drew to an end. Of course, at that time it wasn't known as the First World War or World War I, but as The Great War, because it was regarded as "the war to end all wars."
Nearly a century ago, World War I ended with the implementation of an armistice between the Allies and Germany at the 11th hour of the 11th day of November 1918.
In recognition of The Great War, Armistice Day was celebrated for the first time in November 1919.
President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first Armistice Day on Nov. 11, 1919, with the following words: "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," according to the Center of Military History website.
The road from Armistice Day to Veterans Day took more than three decades.
In October 1921, in conjunction with a ceremony recognizing the establishment of a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, Congress declared Nov. 11, 1921, a legal federal holiday to honor all those who participated in the war.
Beginning in 1926, the president issued annual proclamations calling on the observance of Armistice Day.
In May 1938, Congress passed legislation making Nov. 11 a legal federal holiday called Armistice Day.
Then World War II and the Korean War created millions of additional war veterans in addition to those of World War I already honored by Armistice Day.
Recognizing that The Great War was not going to be the war to end all wars, on June 1, 1954 President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation changing the name of the legal holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.
To this day, Americans continue to set aside the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month to honor and pay tribute to veterans, as well as those currently serving.