Veterans Day has been observed annually in the United States for 90 years. The first celebration was proclaimed by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson on November 11, 1919. Known then as Armistice Day, the observation was meant to commemorate the armistice signed by Germany and World War I Allies.
After World War II, Al King, a Kansas shoe store owner and member of the American War Dads, launched a campaign to change Armistice Day into Veterans Day to honor every military veteran. A bill was eventually pushed through Congress and signed into law in 1954. November 11 has been known as Veterans Day ever since.
Veterans Day Celebrations
Veterans Day celebrations can be found all over the nation today. President Barack Obama is honoring the U.S. armed forces with a special White House breakfast and a trip to Arlington National Cemetery. The president will also participate in the annual wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
A number of Veterans Day parades can also be found around the nation. One of the most well-known parades will be occurring in New York City. More than 20,000 people participate in the annual event, including active officers, veteran's groups, junior ROTC members and veterans' families. Parade participants begin marching on Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street, and continue north along Fifth Avenue to 59th Street. You can find a parade in your area by consulting the U.S. Veterans Day Parade Directory at VetFriends.com.
Fees will also be waived today at national parks and forests in honor of our veterans, servicemen and servicewomen. The National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation are inviting people around the nation to take time today to 'honor and reflect on what our service men and women have done to maintain our freedom and keep peace around the world.'