Exactly a century ago, at the 11th hour, on the 11th day, in the 11th month of 1918, the allies signed an armistice to end all hostilities with their German enemies bringing to an end the First World War.
On June 4, 1926, almost eight years after the end of the war, Congress adopted a resolution requesting that President Calvin Coolidge issue annual proclamations calling for the observance of Nov. 11 with appropriate ceremonies marking the armistice.
But it was not until May 13, 1938, 20 years after the war, that congress passed an act establishing Nov. 11 as a legal holiday – “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as Armistice Day.”
In 1945 soon after the end of the Second World War, Raymond Meeks, who was a veteran of this latest conflict, had the idea of expanding Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans, not just those who died in World War I. Meeks is today recognized as the father of Veterans Day.
U.S. Representative Ed Rees from Emporia, Kan., presented a bill establishing the holiday through Congress and President Dwight Eisenhower, also a Kansan, signed it into law on May 26, 1954.
On June 1, 1954, Congress amended the law replacing “Armistice” with “Veterans,” and the holiday has been known as Veterans Day since then.