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Veterans Day

An official U. S. holiday that honors American military veterans.

November 11 is observed as Veterans Day, a federal holiday that is set aside to honor all U. S. military veterans and to give thanks and recognition for the contributions they have made in the service of their country.

On November 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as Armistice Day to celebrate the signing of the Armistice that formally ended World War I a year earlier on the 11th hour of the llth day of the11th month of 1918.

In 1938, Congress passed (52 Stat. 351; 5 U.S. Code, Sec. 87a) that made the 11th of November of each year a legal holiday declaring it as "a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as 'Armistice Day'."

After World War II and the Korean War, it was decided that November 11th should be inclusive of all veterans of the United States armed forces. The move to make the change began on November 11, 1947 when Raymond Weeks of Birmingham, Alabama organized a parade to recognize the contributions of all U. S. veterans, not just those who served during World War I.

Congressman Edward H. Rees of Kansas then introduced legislation in Congress to change the name of Armistice Day to Veterans Day. In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the bill into law proclaiming November 11th as Veterans Day and issued a Presidential Order directing the head of the Veterans Administration to form a Veterans Day National Committee to oversee the observance of the holiday.

Each year on November 11th at exactly 11 a.m., a color guard consisting of soldiers representing the different branches of the military conducts a ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. During the ceremony, the President of the United States or one of his representatives places a wreath at the tomb to honor fallen soldiers. This is followed by salutes accompanied by a bugler playing Taps.

Other ceremonies are conducted around the country to honor veterans on this date by veterans and veteran organizations. Although Veterans Day is a federal holiday, the law does not mandate that individual states and cities follow suit, thereby giving each state the right to decide how, or whether, to celebrate it. In most states, schools and business do not close on Veterans Day.

Federal employees are given the day off. If the holiday falls on a Saturday, employees are usually given that Friday off. It it falls on a Sunday, they are given the following Monday off. Banks, Post Offices, Libraries, DMV's, and many government offices and facilities are closed on Veterans Day.

Veterans Day should not be confused with Memorial Day. Memorial Day is a federal holiday that is observed on the last Monday of May. It is a day of remembrance dedicated to the soldiers who died while serving in the the United States armed forces.

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