In 1918, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, an armistice was declared between the parties – the Allies and Germany - in World War I, known as the “Great War.”
In the US, the first Armistice Day was declared in 1919 by President Woodrow Wilson:
"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…"
In 1938, November 11 became a legal federal holiday in the US. After World War II and the Korean War, the name was changed to Veterans Day and the holiday was dedicated to American veterans of all wars. The holiday focuses attention on the celebration that honors veterans of America for their patriotism and willingness to serve.
Today, there are more than 24 million Veterans who have served in the US Armed Forces. Most families have a relative, friend or neighbor who served or still serves.
The Library of Congress American Folklife Center launched The Veterans History Project (VHP) in 2000 to collect, preserve and share first-person memories of America’s veterans. The oral history programs add to history in books, by offering primary source material.
VHP represents more than 75,000 collections with stories from men and women of all races, ethnicities, conflicts and branches of service. More than 10,000 are digitized and freely accessible online. http://www.loc.gov/vets . The project’s volunteers record oral histories and also collect photographs, diaries, letters, maps and other documents.
For more information, click here. http://www.va.gov/ or at History.com http://www.history.com/topics/history-of-veterans-day In the US, there is an official wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery. Parades and celebrations held across the country.
A common misconception, according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, is to confuse Veterans Day with Memorial Day (the fourth Monday in May). Memorial Day honors US service members who died in service or following injuries, while Veterans Day honors all American veterans - living or dead - but also thanks living veterans.
Britain (Remembrance Sunday), France, Australia and Canada (Remembrance Day) also commemorate the veterans of World Wars I and II on or near November 11.