On Monday, November 11, many Americans will get a day off for Veterans Day. Veterans Day, originally named Armistice Day, was officially declared a federal holiday in 1938 by Congress as a remembrance for all the servicemen who were involved in the Great War, World War One. It was observed by many, especially the veterans and their families, by stopping for 2 minutes of silence at 11AM. That practice is still observed in many places in Europe today. When the armistice was signed to end the war in Europe, it set the time to stop the fighting at 11AM on November 11th. Battles were still going on right up the specified time.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, also known as the Tomb of the Unknowns, was built in 1921 to further honor those who were lost in battle in WWI but whose bodies were never identified or found. Placing a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was started by President Warren Harding in 1922.
In 1954, Congress changed the name of the day to Veteran’s Day to include the veteran’s from WWII and the Korean War.
Many veterans groups hand out red poppies on Veteran’s Day as a symbol of support. The poppy was the only flower that survived the ravages of war in Flanders, Belgium where much of the heavy fighting took place so it became the symbol of hope.
You can read more about this day and World War I from the materials listed below:
Encyclopedia of American Holidays and National Days / Len Travers. REF GT4803 .A2E63 2006. This includes a very descriptive article about Veteran’s Day and the people and groups who played a role in establishing the holiday.
The Encyclopedia of World War I: a Political, Social, and Military History / Spencer C. Tucker. REF D510 .E53 2005 These five volumes offer a broad coverage of a war and a time in history that is not as well known as WWII.
The Home Front Encyclopedia: United States, Britain, and Canada in World Wars I and II / James Ciment. REF D523 .H65 2007 Discusses the social and political impact of the war away from the battlefields.
The 20th Century: 1901-1940 / Robert F. Gorman. REF D421 .G629 2007
A Farewell to arms [DVD] / Gary Cooper. DVD PN1997 .F37 1998
A wounded American soldier falls in love with his beautiful English nurse during World War I.
La grande illusion [DVD] / Jean Renoir. DVD PN1997 .G67861
Duty and honor conflict in a German prisoner-of-war camp when an aristocratic French officer becomes friends with the commandant while cooperating with his comrades in a daring escape.
Legends of the fall [DVD] / Brad Pitt. DVD PN1997 .L3849 2003
An epic Western saga about a woman and the three sons of a Montana rancher who love her, told against the backdrop of World War I.
The lost patrol [DVD] / John Ford. DVD PN1997 .L679
A terse drama about British cavalrymen lost in the Mesopotamian desert during World War I
Sergeant York [VHS] / Alvin York. VHS PN1997 .S3915 A Tennessee boy, drafted into the military, begins his career as a pacifist but soon sees the justification for fighting.
War horse [DVD] / Steven Speilberg. DVD PN1997 .W37316
Set in rural England and Europe during the First World War this story follows the journey of the horse as he moves through the war, changing and inspiring the lives of those he meets; British cavalry, German soldiers, and a French farmer and his granddaughter.