Veterans Day provides Americans the chance to celebrate the bravery and sacrifice of all U.S. veterans. However, many Americans confuse this holiday with Memorial Day since both holidays celebrate our country's service men and women.
Veterans Day was formerly known as Armistice Day. It was originally set as a national holiday to honor the end of World War I, which officially took place on the eleventh hour of November 11, 1918. A bill was passed in 1938, that states November 11th was "dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as Armistice Day." At the first commemoration of the day in 1919, President Wilson proclaimed the following: "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." As such, this new holiday honored the World War I veterans.
In 1954, after having gone through both World War II and the Korean War, the U.S. Congress amended the Act of 1938 by replacing the word "Armistice" with the word "Veterans". This legislation was approved on June 1, 1954, and November 11th became Veterans Day, a day to pay tribute to American veterans of all wars.
In 1968, the Uniform Holiday Bill created three-day weekends for federal employees by observing these four national holidays on Mondays: Washington's Birthday (commonly known as President's Day), Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. Under this bill, Veterans Day was moved to the last Monday of October. Since many states did not agree with this decision, they continued to celebrate the holiday on its original date. On Oct. 25, 1971 the first Veterans Day was observed with much confusion under the new law.
Then on September 20, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed a new law that returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of Nov. 11, beginning in 1978. Since then, the Veterans Day holiday has been observed on Nov. 11.
While both honor our country's service members, the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day is that Memorial Day is aimed at honoring service members that have died in service or as a result of injury while in service, while Veterans Day was specifically created to commemorate those service members who are still with us.
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