Americans sometimes confuse the intention of Veterans Day with Memorial Day.
For four years the Federal observance of Veterans Day was held on the fourth Monday in October, until in 1975, responding to popular support across the country, legislation passed to return the Federal observance to November 11.
Although World War I, also referred to as "The Great War", officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919, fighting between Germany and the Allied nations had actually ended seven months earlier on November 11, 1918 during the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
Veterans day started out as Armistice Day and was originally created to mark the end of World War I, which at the time, was considered to be the most catastrophic global war of all time. While Veterans Day is reserved as a day on which to honor the bravery of all US veterans, Memorial Day is a federal holiday on which Americans pay tribute to and remember those who died while in service to their country. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
World War I had been dubbed "the war to end all wars".
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Overall, more than 40 million Americans have served our country since 1776, and roughly half are still with us today, including two million who are active duty or in the Guard or Reserves. All of these bills make great strides in improving the daily lives of our veterans through the care and benefits they receive at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Later that same year, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first Veterans Day Proclamation. A third of those fought in Vietnam while a slightly lesser amount served in the Gulf War.
In the latest numbers, about 18 million veterans live in the USA, with some 1.6 million living in North Carolina. They are our neighbors, our co-workers, and people we simply pass on the street, and they have helped to defend the United States and the ideals she purports to uphold.
The day offers parents and teachers an opportunity to teach children about American history.
Some people participate in a moment of silence in remembrance of those who gave their lives for their country. The number of World War II veterans, a group now in their 90s, has dwindled to less than 12,000.
Also at 11 a.m. tomorrow, American Legion Post 203 will sponsor a ceremony at the Veterans Memorial at Newport Town Hall.