While this is the 59th year Veterans Day has been celebrated, this important day has a history that goes back nearly a century. The holiday was originally known as Armistice Day, commemorating the moment when World War I ended. Fighting between the Allies and the Central Powers ceased on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of November, 1918.
In 1938, the U.S. Congress made Armistice Day a federal holiday. In 1954, after World War II and the Korean War mobilized more people in the U.S. armed services than ever before, the name was changed to Veterans Day in order to commemorate the service of all members of the U.S. military, past and present.
According to recent Census data, there are about 21.8 million veterans in the United States. More than 1.3 million of those served in multiple wars. In Greene County, the Census estimates that we have 22,163 veterans, about 10 percent of the county population.
On October 8, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first Veterans Day Proclamation [.pdf], which stated: "In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose.”
Since that time it has become traditional for the U.S. president to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington, Virginia on Veterans Day, while other ceremonies, parades and events take place across the country.
In Greene County, this year’s Southwest Missouri Veterans Day Parade takes place November 9 at 10 a.m. in central Springfield. Parade organizers have posted a Facebook page, a parade route map and a list of veterans resources for the public.
In advance of the holiday, the Library Center is offering two programs about the history of Missouri in World War I: “Base Hospital #28 Goes to France,” at 7 p.m. on Friday, November 1; and “The Great War in Springfield,” at 2 p.m. on Sunday, November 3. These events are listed in our full program calendar.
In addition there are many Library materials about veterans and Veterans Day. Here is just a sampling:
World War II remembered / by residents of Kendal at Hanover
Chimera : a Jim Chapel mission / David Wellington
Other Veterans/Veterans Day Resources
History of Veterans Day
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