Sunday is Veterans Day. This annual event is often overlooked in the run-up to Thanksgiving and the December holidays. But this Veterans Day is something special. It is the 100th anniversary of the unofficial end of the First World War.
The actual peace treaty was signed later, but on 11 November 1918 – at the eleventh hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – a truce (truce called) was signed and the fighting signed.
A year later, President Woodrow Wilson declared the Day of the Armistice of 11 November. Other countries did the same, some called it Memorial Day. In this country, Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.
The First World War was one of the greatest wars in history. Most battles took place in Europe, but more than 30 countries, including the United States, participated. Worldwide, more than 29 million soldiers have been killed or wounded, and an estimated 13 million civilians have died – a terrible toll that has resulted in the war "stigmatizing the war to end all wars".
A poster for everyone
Each year, a US competition is organized to design a poster for Veterans Day. The winning entry appears on the pins and on the title of the program for a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.
This year's theme "The war to end all wars" attracted about 80 contributions. Adam Grimm, whose design won, kept it simple. His poster has a large red poppy, the worldwide symbol for remembering the First World War (see box); Barbed wire to show the brutality of the war; and the pink color of a rising or setting sun that shows the passage of time.
Two honor holidays
Many Americans confuse Veterans Day with Memorial Day, another US-American holiday related to the military.
The memorial day began in the 1860s after the Civil War as a decoration day. After the First World War, the meaning changed. It honors the US military, which died in a conflict, and is observed on the last Monday in May.
The Veterans' Day also reflects a new meaning of the original ceasefire day, which honors those who served in the First World War, and especially those who died. By 1954, the United States had fought in World War II and the Korean War. The legislature decided to rename the day to honor all American military past and present, whether in war or peace.
In the 1970s, Veterans Day was celebrated on the fourth Monday in October, giving the workers a three-day weekend. But it was an unpopular change. Many people liked the connection of the holiday to the ceasefire signing. Since 1978 US veterans have been officially honored on November 11th.