World War I and the Creation of Armistice Day

Happy Armistice/Veterans/Remembrance Day!

Ever thought about why this national holiday was created?  Here’s a little history behind it:

Front page of the NY Times, 11/11/1918.

Front page of the NY Times, 11/11/1918.

At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, World War I ended as guns fell silent over Europe.  After Germany’s allies in the Central Powers began dropping out of the war in late October/early November, and the Imperial German government began crumbling, the numerous reasons in which the Central Powers allied together and set out for war seemed hopeless.  Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated on November 9th, signaling the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian alliance.  Woodrow Wilson rallied for peace, making Germany take full responsibility for the war (a war which was initially triggered by the assassination of the Austrian heir apparent, ArchdukeFranz Ferdinand, in Sarajevo).  Even though the war technically ended on November 11th, 1918, Armistice Day, a treaty calling for a truce was not signed until June 28th 1919.

In November of 1919, Woodrow Wilson dedicated November 11th as the first commemoration of Armistice Day, reflecting on and thanking those soldiers from the Great War.  He stated, “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…” (quote taken from the Department of Veteran Affairs.)  It was declared a national holiday in 1938- a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace.

In 1954, the US government passed an act, calling for World War II and Korean veterans to be honored along with those veterans who served in World War I, changing the name to Veterans Day.  Today, all veterans who have served for their country are honored on Veterans Day.

Further Reading:

Keene, Jennifer D. The United States and the First World War. Essex: Pearson Education Ltd., 2000. Print.

New York Times. ‘Armistice Signed: End of the War!’ New York Times. 11 November 1918. Image. 11 November 2013

Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs. ‘History of Veterans Day.’ US Department of Veterans Affairs. 2013. Web. 11 November 2013

Scheck, Raffael. ‘The First World War: 1914-1918.’ History Department of Colby College. n.d. Web. 11 November 2013




1 Comment

Filed under 1910s

One response to “World War I and the Creation of Armistice Day

  1. You might enjoy this poem about families and absence, “While He’s Away: A Poem About Being Gone.”

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