Features - November 2015

On November 11, 1921, on a hillside overlooking the Potomac River, an unknown soldier who had died in battle in World War I was laid to rest. The memorial service took place at the dedication of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

At England’s Westminster Abbey, and at the Arc de Triomphe in France, similar ceremonies honoring those countries’ unknown war dead had taken place in prior years, but always on November 11. That date was significant because it marked the end of the “first modern global conflict,” World War I, at 11:00 a.m. on November 11, 1918 (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month). But it wasn’t until 1926 that, through a Congressional Resolution, November 11 received official recognition in the United States as a date that should be commemorated for its national and historical significance. In May 1938, Congress approved an Act that made November 11 a legal holiday, and officially named it “Armistice Day.”

Originally, Armistice Day was set aside specifically to honor the veterans of World War I. But after World War II and the Korean War, veterans’ service organizations urged Congress to amend the Act of 1938 to name November 11 as a day to honor American veterans of all wars. In 1954, in response to these petitions, President Eisenhower signed a bill that changed the official name of the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day, and redefined it as a day to honor all American war veterans. He stated, “On that day let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.”

As Americans, we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to all of those valiant men and women who served in our country’s armed services in times of war, and who sacrificed so much in defense of freedom around the world.

NETL honors all our veterans, whose magnitude of service and noble sacrifice enables Americans to enjoy a life of freedom and fulfillment.