Origins of Veteran’s Day

Veteran’s Day began in the World War 1 era as “Armistice Day”. It is still referred to by that term elsewhere in the world, and is also called “Remembrance Day” in some places. At the 11th hour, on the 11th day, of the 11th month in 1918 – Germany and the Allied nations agreed to a cessation of hostilities. It wasn’t the formal end of the war – those details would take months to work out, and tragically, thousands were lost in the final minutes ticking down to Armistice – but it marked the end of fighting. In much of the world – even today – many of us pause to remember in silence the millions upon millions killed, wounded and forever affected by World War I, “the war to end all wars.”

“Lest we forget…” The first Armistice Day observance was certainly the reflection of the desire of people to, as one government official said, “find some lasting expression of their feeling for those who gave their lives in the war. They want something done now while the memories of sacrifice are in the minds of all…”

Armistice was celebrated with one, two, or even three minutes of absolute silence. Factories quieted, and all came to a stand still. One participant later described it like this: “Silence, complete and arresting, closed upon the city – the moving, awe-inspiring silence of a great Cathedral where the smallest sound must seem a sacrilege…Only those who have felt it can understand the overmastering effect in action and reaction of a multitude moved suddenly to one thought and one purpose.”

The silent commemoration was so important that in the inter-war years, the word “Silence” was capitalized.

The first […]