Many may not know, but Veteran’s Day used to be known as Armistice Day. Armistice Day was universally recognized and celebrated on November 11 to mark the end of World War I fighting at 11 a.m., November 11, 1918 (the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month).
In 1921, an unknown WWI soldier was buried in Arlington- National Cemetery and since then this site has served as a focal point of reverence for America’s veterans. Other memorial ceremonies were held across the globe in countries like England and France. All these similar gestures took place on the same day – November 11.
Through a Congressional resolution, Armistice Day became official in 1926 and then became a national holiday 12 years later. Idealistically, Armistice Day was to commemorate WWI as “the War to end all wars.” If that were the case, Veteran’s Day might have still been called Armistice Day, but a few years after the holiday’s proclamation, war broke out in Europe. Sixteen and a half million Americans took up arms with 407,000 losing their life in service and more than 292,000 dying in battle.
It was in 1947, a couple years after the end of World War II, the first celebration using the term “Veteran’s Day” took place. This celebration was organized by WWII veteran Raymond Weeks in Birmingham, Alabama and included a local parade and other festivities throughout the day.
A few years later, U.S. Representative Edwards Rees of Kansas proposed a bill officially changing Armistice Day to Veteran’s Day. The bill was passed in 1954. In November of 1982, President Ronald Reagan bestowed Raymond Weeks with the Presidential Citizens Medal. Weeks’ small parade and ceremonies to honor his fellow servicemen and women in Birmingham, Alabama are now celebrated nationwide.
Bienville Parish will be joining in on the festivities by hosting the following events:
Celebrating Veteran’s Day with Guest Speaker Staff Sergeant Robert Ryan May – Gibsland Grill
NAACP (Arcadia – Bienville Unit 61 AD-B) Veteran’s Day Dinner – Arcadia Events Center
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